“We’re a small but mighty seafood firm that connects people with fresh, high quality product straight from the source. We love what we do.”
In a very competitive industry, Sea Agra has risen to the top of the seafood supply industry through rooted, established relationships with its producing partners and top quality customers for their products.
Sea Agra is a pioneer in Canada’s “Shore-to-Door” seafood brokerage industry. For over 40 years, Ralph Shaw, President of Sea Agra, has worked in many facets of the aquaculture and wild catch industries. Joe Collins and Robert Shaw also add extensive, qualified experience to the company’s sales team. Together, their understanding and knowledge of the production, processing, sales, and distribution of premium fresh seafood is significant.
Sea Agra acts as the sales arms for some of British Columbia’s premiere seafood producers. Sea Agra is a trusted provider to wholesale distributors, whose products ship out daily to end up on the plates of North America restaurant patrons.
The aquaculture industry has evolved since 1992, and Sea Agra along with it. In the earlier days, there was close to 40 different farmed salmon producing companies, and Sea Agra had relationships with many of them. However, a provincial moratorium on expansion in the salmon farm industry in the 90s meant the only means of growth was through acquisition, prompting a significant consolidation among farmers. Sea Agra “adjusted to the trends in the industry,” says Shaw.
“We started to do wild salmon purchasing and started working with West Coast Fish Culture. They started into the production of farmed salmon. We also continued our trading operations in the wild salmon business. It was like building momentum again. That continued on. We have since then started working with Sable Fish Canada Ltd. – one of two farmed sablefish producers on the west coast, with their own hatchery and grow out facilities. We’ve expanded the wild salmon component; we now do a significant amount of wild salmon.” Today, 60 per cent of Sea Agra’s suppliers are in the aquaculture industry, and 40 per cent are wild seafood producers, with the company selling wild salmon, farmed steelhead, Atlantic salmon and farmed sablefish.
“The primary thing is we have the continuity of supply from our producers. The quality is built in. We offer consistency of supply, quality, and reliability.”
Sea Agra has also deep ties with its farmers, establishing relationships that go back over a decade. “It’s a partnership, absolutely,” says Shaw. “We work very closely with our suppliers. I think the relationships we have are extension of our business. They have our commitment and a track record of integrity and performance, and transparency, backed by our financial strength.”
Consistency in the aquaculture industry is another major advantage for Sea Agra. There is strict control over the product. Supply is predictable and reliable, ensuring that customers get their product in a time frame that ensures freshest possible quality. “Logistics is a major factor for us in supplying all our customers on a daily basis. All of our freight providers are fabulous; without them, you can’t supply the customers in the way they need to be. They’re integral.”
Sea Agra’s seafood producers are primarily all B.C. based, but they do have other foreign producers, including a company based in Denmark which produces specialized tank-razed Atlantic Salmon.
Shaw has had a unique perspective on the seafood processing industry, and has seen many ebbs and flows. “For a long time the industry was consolidating and the opportunities were limited – although we’re quite lucky to keep growing throughout. But I think there’s a second leg coming in the aquaculture industry here; not just ocean based, but also land based. I think we’ll need to take advantage of opportunities as they come along. We’ll provide the producers that are developing and growing with the same kind of services. I think that the industry continues to move along. And we are there with it.”