The wholesale seafood business poses a threat of different accident-related lawsuits from employees and food spoilage ones from the customers. At times, these may even affect your personal assets as a business owner. Hence, it is advisable that you form a limited liability company to separate your personal belongings from your business assets that you are able to pledge.
Seafood has become very popular lately. The health benefits associated with seafood have put it on the must-have nutrition lists of many health-conscious people. Due to this growing demand, starting a wholesale seafood business can prove to be a very lucrative venture. However, note that this business is susceptible to frequent inspection from the authorities and has stringent rules and regulations. As consumption of spoiled fish can lead to illness and adverse health effects, it is essential that you look after the cold storage requirement strictly. Also, lack of proper safety and sanitation at the place where you will operate can affect the health of your employees. Hence, it is important that the place is cleaned and sanitized from time to time.
Starting a Seafood Business
Conduct a feasibility research about the area where you intend to start your business. Survey the existing competition to understand the rates in the area. Speak to other people who have started a similar venture in some other area and understand the benefits and risks involved in the wholesale seafood business.
If possible, try to buy an existing business instead of opting for a startup. You may not get a loan easily for a startup as opposed to an already-established business. Also, the business will come with its own share of client base, and you will not have to start from scratch. You can also opt for a franchise to start the wholesale seafood business.
Before starting the business, contact your local, state, and federal authorities to know about the licenses, permits, clearances and permissions, tax registrations and receipts, inspections, rules and regulations, etc., for starting a wholesale seafood business.
Have a foolproof business plan in place for the success of your venture. Calculate the budget which will be needed to start the business and know where to source it from. Know about the composition of your target market, its location, and the means to reach it. Plan how you will be getting the seafood to sell and fix its quantity and price. Know about the transport, cold storage, packaging, cleanliness requirements, etc.
In order to arrange for finance, you can avail an SBA loan, bank loan, or a credit union loan. If a friend or family member is ready to lend the money at an affordable interest rate, there's nothing like it.
Obtain the BBB accreditation for your business as many customers like to browse the BBB website for reviews on various businesses. If you are a BBB-accredited business and have a good rating, you will be able to gain customer trust easily.
You will have to acquire a food service license from the state health department and a food handling certificate from your county or city. The requirements for this license will vary from state to state.
Ensure that your seafood business is inspected and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You should also become a member of the United States Department of Commerce's HACCP seafood program.
Read the 'Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance' issued by the Food and Drug Administration that's easily available on its website to get information about its storage, distribution, and handling.
Find a climate-controlled place in a commercial area. Also, ensure that it is safe for operational use and follows the hygiene and sanitation regulations thoroughly. Check if the drainage system and sewage are present and maintained properly. The facility should also have a good ventilation and lighting system.
As you will be dealing in a wholesale seafood business, your business location will attract a lot of cold storage vehicles for transportation. Consult your city or county zoning commission to know about the zoning requirements and restrictions in the area where you intend to operate.
Ensure that the paint from the walls is not chipping and falling or there is no mold on the walls of the facility. The walls are clean and colored properly. The health department of your state will inspect your facility from time to time. Hence, ensure that the surfaces used to keep the fish are clean. Also, the storage areas, delivery equipment, transport vehicles, etc., all follow the proper hygiene norms.
It is important and mandatory that you and all your employees attend the workshops for food safety held by the State government. As you will be dealing with food products that may directly impact the health of others, it is essential that you know the right safety and hygiene norms to handle the fish.
Also, as this business is subject to inspection from the authorities, ensure that your employees follow hygiene and sanitation stringently. Hence, ensure that the staff wears all the safety gear including gloves when handling the food.
Ensure that proper sanitation measures are taken to keep the areas where the seafood is handled and packaged clean. It is important that you always opt for high standard of food safety in order to create a good reputation in the market.
You should be on the lookout for any kind of spoilage or contamination of the seafood which can pose a threat to the life of the consumers. If you come across any 'bad fish', ensure that you separate the lot from the good ones and dispose them off. If you fail to do so, you stand the risk of getting your license revoked or suspended. It may also invite a heavy fine payment.
Set policies for your wholesale business like minimum orders, credit term and payment, order placement and delivery, late payment charges, employment policies, etc., so that there will be no ambiguity in case of a dispute.
It is essential that you share a good rapport with people in your supply chain, be it fishermen, fish farm operators, transporters, cold storage owners, hotel or supermarket managers, etc. This networking with your business partners will definitely help you in the long run.
Being a small player, you may not be able to compromise too much on the price. Hence, you should plan at providing value by transporting seafood, giving a prompt delivery, keeping up commitments, providing quality seafood, replacing any spoiled food, etc., and not giving any room for customer complaints. Remember, your customers will not like to dissatisfy their clients. Hence, in case of any delivery, cost, or quality issues on your part, they will simply go ahead and change the wholesale supplier.
Even before you start your wholesale business, canvass and promote it. Contact every restaurant and seafood retailer in your area and tell them about your venture. Offer competitive introductory prices and win over long-term contracts from them.
You can slowly and steadily expand business to other regional and national areas. Once you expand the line of business, you can partner with big players from other countries to take your business to international heights.
Once you have established a fresh seafood business, try to bring about a variation by offering a range of processed products which include smoked, salted, frozen, canned, and even the live ones. However, you will have to find out what kind of rules apply for starting a seafood processing business.
Apart from the points mentioned above, for starting a seafood business, it is advisable that you come up with different discount and service schemes to attract as many retailers as you can. Don't forget to use social media power to reach out to a number of prospective customers. Maintain a good website with attractive pictures of your facility and seafood. Highlight how your business adheres to the sanitation norms to attract more and more clients.