Wholesale and Distribution Sector

New York has one of the largest consumer marketplaces in the country. A major part of the state’s seafood industry consists of the large network of wholesale and distribution businesses that supply the products needed by retailers and restaurants to satisfy their customer’s demand for seafood products. There are many different types of wholesale businesses that specialize in supplying a variety of different products and markets. Business activities can range from small wholesalers who buy products from local fishermen and sell them to local retail stores or restaurants, to large NY based importers who source products from around the world and sell them in markets across the U.S.

Wholesale operations tend to be versatile and diverse businesses that are dynamic and constantly changing to take advantage of new opportunities or to adapt to changing market conditions. These businesses may also be involved in other activities such as processing or retailing which makes it difficult to identify all businesses in the wholesale sector of the seafood industry, the number of people they employ, and their contribution to New York’s economy.

Estimates of the size and contribution of the wholesale sector of the seafood industry are available from several sources. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that in 2002 there were 276 seafood wholesale “plants” in New York that employ an average of 1,944 individuals. A comparison of NMFS figures for other states shows that New York, California, and Florida have the largest number of wholesale seafood businesses in the U.S. with 276, 283, and 276 respectively. NMFS estimates of wholesale businesses are generally based on those dealers who are required to report purchases of fish or shellfish species managed by Federal fisheries management regulations. These estimates are generally considered to be lower than the actual number of wholesale businesses that operate in a given state because many businesses may not buy species covered by these regulations. The 2001 NY Sea Grant study estimated that there were 310 fish and seafood wholesalers that employed 4,100 people in New York in 1997.

The 2001 NY Sea Grant economic study estimated that the total sales of wholesale fish and seafood products in New York was just over $2.0 billion in 1999. Approximately one third of the total sales of the state’s seafood wholesalers occurred at New York City’s Fulton Fish Market. The total contribution of the wholesale sector (including Fulton Market) to the economy of New York State in 1999 was estimated to be $1.7 billion, including almost $800 million in value added to the seafood products that these firms bought and sold.

FULTON MARKET
The Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan is the largest wholesale seafood market in the U.S. Seafood products from the entire Atlantic seaboard and other parts of the U.S. and the World have been shipped to Fulton Market for display and sale to retail stores and restaurants throughout the New York City metropolitan area. Fulton Market has operated in the same location on the lower east side of Manhattan for over 150 years, but in August 2005 it will relocate to a modern new facility near the Hunts Point fruit, vegetable and meat markets in the Bronx. There are approximately 50 individual businesses located at Fulton Market. Each business locates, buys, receives, displays, and then sells a variety of different seafood products to a range of regular and casual customers who specifically travel to Fulton to purchase the seafood products they need. Some firms specialize in certain types of products or products from specific parts of the country or the world. Total employment at Fulton was estimated to be approximately 600 New Yorkers in 1999. In the 2001 NY Sea Grant economic study, total sales at Fulton Market were estimated to be $655 million in 1999. This estimate of total sales is based on the 218.3 million pounds volume of fish handled by Fulton Market’s establishments in that year, estimates of the sources and value of these inputs, and the value added by these businesses. Fulton Market’s total direct contribution to the economy of NY State was estimated to be $545 million in 1999.

Product Flow in New York Wholesale Businesses

The 2001 NY Sea Grant economic study attempted to characterize the source of products used by wholesale businesses in New York and where those products were sold. Although there is considerable variation from one wholesale business to another, two models were developed: one for Fulton Market and one for all other seafood wholesale businesses in New York.

Fulton Market wholesalers buy two thirds of the seafood products that they sell from other states in the U.S. and one fifth from foreign sources. Almost half of the product sold by other New York wholesalers comes from foreign sources with an almost equal amount from processors, other U.S. states and Fulton Market. Almost half of the seafood products sold at Fulton Market are purchased by retail seafood markets, and about one fifth by restaurants in the New York City metropolitan area.

Other New York Wholesalers
The primary customers for the rest of NY’s wholesale businesses are restaurants and food service operations (60%) and retail markets/supermarkets (30)%. It was estimated that approximately 10% of the customers who buy seafood from NY seafood wholesalers are located outside the state. The following charts summarize where other New York seafood wholesalers typically purchase their products and where they are sold. As with Fulton Market, other wholesalers are likely to specialize in certain products from specific locations and target specific types of businesses such as retailers or restaurants. The information below is a general characterization of the entire activity of this industry sector statewide.

SHELLFISH SHIPPERS
Another unique component of the wholesale sector of the seafood industry are firms specifically licensed to ship bi-valve shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels, and bay scallops). Permits are required in New York and other states to process or ship these products. There are currently 7 different types of shellfish processor or shipper permits available in New York. Each permit allows the holder to ship certain specified types of products in either inter or intra state commerce. Some individuals or firms in each permit category may only be involved in buying and selling shellfish while many others also wholesale a variety of other seafood products in addition to shellfish. The following table summarizes shellfish shippers permits sold by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in 2003, 2000 and 1994. For descriptions of permit categories see the DEC’s Marine Fisheries Environmental Conservation Law. The number of firms or individuals holding these permits has decreased significantly (by as much as 68%) from 1994 to 2003 in all permit categories except for Class B shippers.

FOREIGH TRADE IN SEAFOOD PRODUCTS
New York is a major center for international trade in seafood products. The 2001 NY Sea Grant study estimated that in 1999 there was 171 firms in New York involved in the import or export of seafood products. Of these, 142 or 83% were located in the five boroughs of New York City. Many of these firms are involved in the import or export of seafood products, as well as wholesale sales to retail markets and restaurants. Seafood moves into and out of the region to or from distant markets by land (truck) and by air and ocean carrier. There are three customs districts where seafood products enter New York: at Buffalo, Ogdensburg and New York City.

Imports - According to the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Customs Bureau, in 2003 at total of 712 million pounds of seafood products valued at $1.64 billion were imported through the three ports of entry into New York State. The New York City customs district accounted for 91% of the total volume of imports and 95% of the total value. New York accounted for approximately 7% of the total value of all seafood products imported into the U.S. in 1999. In 1999 approximately 54% of all seafood imports arrived by land, 36% by sea, and 11% by air. Major seafood products imported into New York in 2003 ranked by dollar value included: shrimp imports were valued at $781 million or 49% of the total dollar value of all edible seafood products imported; salmon at $101.4 million or 6% of the total; canned tuna at $96.9 million or 6% of the total; fresh or frozen tuna at $49 million or 3% of the total; and other non specified marine fish at $65.4 million or 4% of the total imports.

Exports – According to the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Customs Bureau, in 2003 104.5 million pounds of seafood products valued at $277 million were exported from New York State. The New York City customs district accounted for 55% of the total volume of exports and 69% of the total value. New York accounted for approximately 3% of the total value of seafood exported from the U.S. in 1999. About 54% of the exports from New York were by land, 23% by sea, and 24% by air. Major seafood products exported from New York’s three custom districts ranked by total dollar value in 2003 included: live lobster at $101 million or 36% of the total; non specified fresh or frozen fish at $26 million or 9% of the total; fresh sea urchin roe at $23.6 million or 8.5% of the total; scallops at $19.9 million of 7% of the total; and non specified fresh or frozen fish fillets at $12.2 million or 4% of the total exported.

Wholesale Summary

The wholesale sector is the largest sector of New York’s seafood industry other than restaurants that only derive a portion of their total sales from seafood products. There are approximately 300 firms involved in wholesaling and distributing seafood products in New York. Wholesale sales in New York were over $2.0 billion in 1999, and wholesalers directly contributed over $1.7 billion to the state’s economy. Approximately one-third of the total sales in this industry sector occur at New York City’s Fulton Fish Market. International trade represents a significant portion of all seafood economic activity in New York. More than $1.6 billion worth of seafood products were imported in 2003 by at least 170 firms (83% in New York City) who are involved in importing seafood products, and almost $340 million worth of seafood products were exported.













Login
23 Bay Ave W., Hampton Bays, NY 11946     TEL: 631-728-0009      FAX: 631-728-0009
Copyright © 2013 NY Seafood Council. All Rights Reserved.
logo