For the last five years, Hy-Vee has partnered with Trident Seafoods to supply Hy-Vee with Alaska crab. Each year Trident and Hy-Vee have committed to a contest among Hy-Vee seafood managers to promote Alaskan crab. The winners of the contest get to travel to Seattle where Trident is headquartered and tour Trident facilities over the course of three days. I have been lucky enough to be able to take this trip 4 of the last 5 years, including this year.
Last week, we were treated to a tour of the F/V PINNACLE, an Alaskan crab boat. It was docked in Seattle because it only catches crab and was being prepped for the upcoming season. Most crab boats switch over to salmon tendering during the summer to make extra money, but this beautiful ship stayed home. Standing on the deck of the PINNACLE was a real treat. To see how the crab are caught on TV is one thing; to see how they are caught on the deck of a boat is another. I gained instant respect for crab fishermen the minute the crab boat captain Jim handed me a spool of rope that crab fishermen toss into crab pots hundreds of times a day. Needless to say, the 100-pound spool left me wondering how these guys do this job under such adverse conditions. The pay is good, but the danger is real. Standing by the coiler you can see how so many things can go wrong when the wind is blowing and the waves are rolling. We talked to crab captains and listened to their stories of past failures and successes. I found it interesting that they were just as interested in how we sell crab as we were in how they catch it. We are all part of a big seafood family and each of us has our role.
Trident does more than just catch crab; in fact they are actually much bigger in the salmon and pollock business. We toured their smoking plant where they make products for many companies. We toured their pier 91 plant where they process pollock and test new products and recipes. No trip to Seattle would be complete without visiting the famous Pike Place Fish Market. There we were treated to fish throwing and catching along with the market’s unique take on selling seafood!
Captain Dave took us on a tour of the boat docks where the boats were gearing up for the Alaskan salmon season. He also took us to the famous Ballard Locks where the fish swim up man-made ladders to get to Lake Washington from the sea! And, of course, we got to eat a lot of great seafood along the way.
Hy-Vee’s partnership with Trident has grown tremendously over the last five years. Our annual crab promotion is something that families look forward to during the holiday season. Crab fishing starts in October, and Hy-Vee’s crab promotion starts in December. The Alaska crab story is one that starts with Trident crab fishermen, continues with Hy-Vee fishmongers and ends with you eating the best crab in the world!