Why processing?

4. Processing is ripe for disintermediation. Moving the value-add of processing either down the supply chain, so it is owned by fishermen, or up the supply chain, so it is in the hands of distributors, can potentially add power to players who are more vested in sustainability.

5. This area lends itself well to the design process. This area of the supply chain has plenty of processes and business flows that one might influence. Key business drivers are apparent, without as many policy (or stakeholder engagement) obstacles to navigate.

Of the original eight opportunity areas we identified, one stood out as the most viable: processing. Here are some of the reasons why we selected the processing segment of the supply chain as the opportunity to explore.

1. It’s the part of the supply chain where traceability derails. The hand-off of fish from fisherman to processor is a critical moment in which crucial information—the type of fish, how it was caught, where it was caught, when it was caught—is often lost. Up to a third of seafood in the U.S. is mislabeled Understanding why information is lost and how we might incentivize players to better capture it, is a key challenge for this system.

2. Little energy has been expended looking at, or trying to drive the sustainability of, seafood processors. Most of the solutions we examined in both the for-profit and non-profit buckets were targeted at other players in the supply chain. We were curious to dig into why that was true.

3. The reach of the processing industry is global and systemic. Most seafood processing now takes place in China and Southeast Asia (nearly 80% in total). Huge amounts of fuel and time are spent shipping fish from the developed world to the developing world, where the wage differential still offsets the cost, but not the carbon footprint generated by this transport. Any solution in this space could potentially have massive reach.