Crab Kickstarter ended today

kickstarter endOur 30 day Kickstarter campaign ended today. The goal was to reach 60 retail customers in advance by taking crab orders at lower than retail price. The thought was that this would give a critical mass to justify the start-up costs of setting up a shipping system. We know shipping is expensive so that is a detriment to these sales.

The campaign ended with just 5 pledges. I obviously have more to learn about these campaigns. Meanwhile, however, we put a massive wholesale sales system in place and are working on an alternate retail distribution method using a food truck.

The next retail project we try is likely to be an online auction system to price and allocate crabs during periods of peak demand like holiday weekends.

Seafood trends

blue claw crabThe most recent fisheries report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) gives some interesting insights into seafood trends using the most recent data from 2015 and 2016.

Prices are up slightly. Overall U.S. landings volume of seafood decreased 1.5% from 2015 to 2016 while the value of seafood landed increased 2.1%.

Non-food use –  22% of U.S. landings are used for non-seafood purposes (pet food, fish meal. We presume a significant portion of this is our nearby neighbor Omega Protein that dominates menhaden harvest.

We are growing more valuable seafood – U.S. aquaculture production is only 6% of U.S. seafood volume production, but accounts for 21% of U.S. seafood value production.

Consumption – Per capita seafood consumption in the U.S. is 14.9 lbs., a decrease of 0.6 lbs from 2015. Even though per capita consumption is less than other countries, the U.S. is the 2nd largest consumer of seafood globally, behind China due to our size and affluence.

World production – Most, 85 to 95% of the seafood we eat in the U.S. is imported. However this statistic may be distorted. A significant amount of this seafood is caught in U.S. waters, exported to other countries for processing and then reimported.

Blue claw crab – Hard blue crab landings decreased both in volume and price compared to 2015.  The Middle Atlantic region increased almost 8% in 2016 compared to the prior year but the price decreased 8% over the prior year. (This is why the industry is suffering and why we got involved to te to help).  Total U.S. landings of blue claw crab were 157.5 million pounds valued at $213.8 million—a decrease of almost 1.2 million pounds (1 percent) and $21 million (nearly 9 percent) compared with 2015. Louisiana landed more than 24 percent of the total U.S. landings followed by: Maryland, 22 percent; Virginia, more than 17 percent; and North Carolina, 16 percent. Hard blue crab landings in the South Atlantic, with almost 34.7 million pounds, decreased 15 percent; and the Gulf region, with almost 49.5 million pounds, decreased almost 1 percent. The Middle Atlantic region, with over 73.3 million pounds valued at nearly $114.8 million, had an increase of almost 5.4 million pounds (nearly 8 percent) compared with 2015. The average dockside price per pound of hard blue crabs was $1.36 in 2016 compared with $1.48 in 2015.

Oysters –  Oysters have the highest volume for marine shellfish aquaculture production  (35.2 million pounds, up 5.7%).  Overall, oysters are our 9th most valuable type of seafood at $217 million.  The landing increased 21% in 2016 over the prior year presumably mostly due to the ongoing improvement of the oyster aquaculture industry. Yet relatively little of the industry’s production comes from the Delaware Bay region; we are not mentioned in the report.

New Jersey – Our state ranks second in landings of mackerel, scallops and clams and first in quahog. The state’s seafood processors and dealers employ about 1,600 people, not counting growers and harvesters.

End of crab season

Crab season officially ends tomorrow but I closed down the sales web site because we don’t expect any orders today. The crabs are still out there but only a few crab boats are in the water. They will leave the dock within the next few days.

The marina remains open until the end of the month for striper fishing.

The crab business will open again next spring on March 15. We look forward to welcoming a new marina manager, several new harvesters, and new restaurant and wholesale buyers. We have physical expansions planned over the winter with a mobile  cooler unit and walk-in freezer.

We will continue to enjoy our own frozen soft and hard shell crabs but we don’t have permits to sell them commercially in this form yet. Next season frozen crabs will be available commercially through another company.

 

Food security is one of many benefits of dock-to-table seafood operations

All of the crab in a New Jersey supermarket located less than 20 miles from some of the most productive crab harvesting ports in the region is imported from Indonesia. It’s generally considered an inferior food product and more susceptible to food security risks. We can do better!

Dock-to-table seafood ventures help solve a range of problems and a handful of risks for our community. This blog post focuses on only one: FOOD SECURITY.

What happens if any part of our food supply is significantly disrupted? We can only imagine the stress, panic and violence and possible starvation. Weather events, climate change, disease, sabotage as an act of war or terrorism, trade wars, political destabilization that leads to a loss of immigrant work force, loss of electric or fuel for transportation could all cause real hardship to our food supply chain.

Dock-to-table operations help by providing diversification, decentralization and localization to the food supply. Generally the dock-to-table seafood is a higher quality and less susceptible to the risks listed. In addition, the two seafood products that make up most of our local harvest – oysters and crabs – are deemed less susceptible to the risks and might even benefit from the long-term trends in climate change and rising tides.

Investors in dock-to-table seafood operation typically purchase a right to a share of the harvest or at least first refusal of that share in the event of a wholesale operation. Restaurant chains, for example, can control price and supply risk of seafood by contracting with a local dock-to-table cooperative in advance.

We will cover the many other benefits of dock-to-table seafood in other blog posts. Meanwhile, I am pleased to discuss the topic with anyone who may have interest as a career or as an investor.

Preparing for fall striper season

Each spring and fall the arrival of the large migrating striped bass draws more traffic than we see at other times of the year. We stockpile bunker now at the end of crab season for these fishermen. It turns out to be s good use of old crab baskets that would otherwise be discarded.

Money Island in Philadephia Inquirer

On Sunday June 23, 2017 the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story that covered Money Island New Jersey. Nantuxent Corporation’s founder Tony Novak is interviewed along with other business owners and Downe Township mayor Bob Campbell. The article drew some harsh criticism from the scientific community in response to the mayor’s comment that sea level rise damage is “hogwash”.

Read the article at:

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/on-the-delaware-bay-nj-town-struggles-against-sea-rise-will-money-island-vanish-20170625.html

Crowdfunding possibilities

I am investigating a few crowdfunding possibilities for the upcoming redevelopment project. No decisions have been made yet. Today I send a draft copy of the redevelopment proposal, a summary of initial investment and a stock subscription agreement to a crowdfunding expert for review and comment. This is the first time an ‘outsider’ has reviewed any of our plans.

Next week we expect to see the architect’s initial drawings.

One significant issue is the fair treatment of Money Island ‘insiders’ who have already expressed interest but are not yet committed to participation in the future. Anyone else in the community with an interest in discussing the project is invited to contact me now before any commitments are made.

Soft shell crabs

 

Soft shell crabs are produced from May to October under a New Jersey aquatic farming license held by Tony Novak.

We usually produce these crabs to specific customer orders. We currently supply two local seafood restaurants and make direct sales to consumers at the marina. Soft shell crabs are priced higher than hard shell crabs, typically about $3.00 each dockside. Our current production capacity is 8,000 crabs but we are ready to expand as demand increases.