High prices and spotty supply are not the only challenges restaurants face when purchasing seafood. The seafood supply chain has a reputation for being fragmented and inefficient. “Right now, there are relatively few suppliers who get all the business and the buyer has little leverage,” says Dave Goldstein, who grew up in the seafood import and distribution business. He remembers his father shuffling piles of price sheets every time someone called with an order. “With over 2,000 species, it’s difficult to keep track and standardize.”
Goldstein and his business partner, Eric Spett, came up with a solution—FishList.com, an online community that streamlines purchasing by connecting buyers and suppliers; no transactions take place. Just launched in April, the database currently lists 30 suppliers, 70 buyers, 430 products and 100 companies, but there’s no limit to the number of users. The free service allows buyers to search by species, price and other criteria, and it’s easy to filter out suppliers who are certified for sustainability. Urgent requests for overnight seafood shipments can also be accommodated. If a chef needs 50 pounds of wild salmon delivered next day, he posts his request and the vendors come to him, says Goldstein. Supplier profiles and feedback are posted on the site.
“If you see a product you're interested in, add it to your Watch List—a tool that lets you keep track of and compare all of your options side-by-side. You can even mark off your best options so you can quickly reference them later on,” explains Goldstein. He and Spett are constantly tweaking the site after listening to what suppliers and buyers find most valuable.