Team Dealboard recently attended CONXEMAR, the International Fair of Frozen Seafood organized by the Spanish Association of Wholesalers, Importers, Processors and Exporters of Fisheries and Aquaculture Products. While there, we engaged in 120 conversations with representatives from over 100 companies in the seafood industry. We share our observations about the CONXEMAR event, the current state of the seafood industry, and the impact of COVID in this multi-part series.
Relationships matter. We do business with those who we’ve
successfully done business with before. We build trust based on observing each
other’s patterns of behavior. And if we’ve had an issue or dispute, we make
note of those who strive to do right by others and honor “the spirit of the
agreement” rather than those who ruthlessly work their advantage on the basis
of a technicality. These concepts aren’t just for the seafood industry, they
apply to life as a whole.
But, when it comes to relationships, the seafood industry
has a scalability problem. We know that at the fringes of this industry, there
are plenty of sketchy operations. Each of us every day faces decisions
about whether to permit smaller companies to make big purchases, and from time
to time every one of us finds ourselves in a disagreement over something which
had previously been agreed. It’s no wonder many seafood buyer/seller
relationships, the most successful ones, have been built and strengthened over
But now, fisheries in some locations are threatened by
climate change, forcing us to seek new suppliers in other regions. And, despite
the generations-long history of many seafood trading relationships, the pandemic
introduced unprecedented supply chain volatility and consumer demand uncertainty,
leading many parties to exit the industry or seek shelter under bankruptcy
All of this puts pressure on relationships, and forces all of us to seek new ones. Lack of trust becomes
a huge barrier to growing your network. This was a frequent topic in our
conversations at CONXEMAR. Any time a new party wants to purchase goods and
services, developing trust over a generation is too long to wait for the
necessary trust to develop.
There are ways to mitigate this, of course – word of mouth
referrals, testing new parties through small transactions first, or obtaining
credit insurance, for example. But each of these takes time, or gets expensive.
How do you build trust? Is your process to build trust a
barrier or an enabler for your business growth?