Salmon from Norway, tuna from Sri Lanka, mussels from Chile and shrimps from Ecuador – all these types of seafood are now available fresh for order and delivery. The importer, Food Republic, launched the online store a month ago. It is now taking orders on Food Republic Yerevan Facebook page.
Food Republic founder Arsen Hovhannisyan has talked to GastroVino about the new supply system and the services his company plans to introduce.
Food Republic: What? Where? When?
The pilot project is on Facebook now and later we will make it a full-fledged online store. We are currently working on the website design.
Food Republic is the largest importer of fresh (not frozen) seafood in Armenia. We import it mainly from Norway and Sri Lanka, and the shrimps we bring from Ecuador, because it is the best in the world. We deliver new batches 2 to 3 times a week.
Food Republic’s Facebook page also posts recipes and teaches followers how to cook seafood properly. The tips are from the chef team of Wine Republic Yerevan, we work with some bloggers too.
The birth of the online store
The global market of fresh seafood delivery is a small club, actually, even exhibitions are rare, so everybody knows everybody and it is difficult to get in. With certain recommendations, Wine Republic Yerevan restaurants’ supplier Food Republic managed to join the club and sign deals with large suppliers.
We import fresh seafood for our restaurants, because we offer our clients a ready product.
We were often approached by our customers and even friends, who wanted to know if they could buy seafood from us and cook it themselves, at home. That raised some issues, for instance, the packaging.
We decided to approach the matter professionally and launched an online store to find out if the clients were interested and what amount of seafood we would sell. The reaction was quite big.
From sea to table: Cutting down the supply chain
Food Republic has a completely new approach to seafood delivery. Usually people go to shops or supermarkets, where seafood is sold frozen at best, lying on the counter under a layer of ice.
After the market research, which unveiled the disadvantages of the supply system, we realized that we could create an online store and cut down the supply chain as much as possible.
Imagine how long the chain really is: the fish is caught, processed, moved to cold storage, transported to a different storage at a distance, and then distributed to wholesale dealers who sell it to consumers. We decided to reduce the amount of links in this chain.
We buy fresh, not frozen products. Salmon, tuna, mussels and shrimp are caught, processed and immediately delivered by plane to Armenia, where we sell it online. This way we omit the links that affect the quality of the seafood.
It is about breaking stereotypes, too: if you organize the logistics correctly, you get the freshest seafood. The number of middlemen is often much higher in certain European countries, as not everyone there can be flexible in supply because of geographical position. We have a competitive advantage, which we turn into freshness.
The advantages of online shopping
In this business people usually run into the issue of packaging: how should you store seafood to make sure it stays fresh for several days? We installed vacuum packing equipment, which allows keeping seafood fresh for up to a week without freezing.
It eliminates the need to freeze and thaw the food, as well as the need for cold storage, which kill the quality of food. Our fish is not frozen at any stage. The buyers decide if it should be frozen.
The online store also takes out the human factor: in ordinary shops, people might change the ice on time, or they might not. The shops often damage the product for the sake of pretty display. We display our seafood online, posting photos of it. The only problem in that case is similarity between the photo and the real product, which is our responsibility.
Our store has another advantage too – we can deliver the fish as a whole, or as fillet and steak pieces. We have a processing department where we can produce different cuts.
And finally, the most important point: reduction of intermediary links helps us maintain competitive prices. Each link in the supply chain expects profit, so by cutting these expenses, we can offer the lowest possible price to our customers. The delivery is free of charge.
Photos: Food Republic Yerevan