Food Engineering

Field Reports: Wish for fish yields booming business

March 28, 2003
Fishmonger software integrates all of a seafood company’s central business processes into one system.

As American Seafood continued to grow its business, it needed to develop an automated method of working with both factory codes and customer-specific product definitions.
In the 1970s when Tom Cassidy returned to his hometown of Memphis, Tennesse from his worldwide scuba diving adventures, he missed fresh fish. He took that problem as an opportunity and founded American Seafood, one of eight companies that now make up Cassidy Fine Foods.

American Seafood’s growth has been fueled by two factors. First, in the mid-South region there has been a growing demand for fresh fish. When the casino gaming industry moved on to the Mississippi River, the influx of sophisticated tourists provided more upscale opportunities beyond the region’s traditional fried catfish. Second, the emergence of Memphis as the nation’s airfreight hub created the opportunity to bring in fresh fish from all over the world. Cassidy parlayed these trends into a $20 million dollar fish processing and specialty food distribution business.

As American Seafood grew the fresh fish processing business, they encountered a number of problems. On the production floor, whole fish are disassembled into filets that may need to meet customer-specific requirements. There were two issues that couldn’t be tracked well with paper production reports. First, yields of the whole fish needed to be tracked to generate valid costing factors. Most food companies “assemble” their product in some way, but in the meat, poultry and fish industries, there is an “inverse bill of materials” that must track the yield and value of the “disassembled” product. Second, American Seafood also found that the factory production codes for the disassembled fish parts didn’t match the customer’s nomenclature. They needed to develop an automated method of working with both factory codes and customer-specific product definitions.

“Initially, we started building custom software, but quickly found the cost was going to be prohibitive, “ Cassidy said, “so we looked for a solution that was developed for the fish processing industry.” After looking at several software solutions and conducting customer site visits, Cassidy settled on Fishmonger™ Seafood Software from Disc Design & Data. Fishmonger is an industry specific solution that integrates all of the seafood company’s central business processes into one system. Fishmonger tracks all eight Cassidy companies in basic ERP functionality: purchasing, accounts payable, production, inventory, invoicing, and accounts receivable through eight separate general ledgers. All the companies are run through one Unix processor. According to Cassidy, “The costs of shrink-wrapped software were significantly less than custom development and the system continues to be upgraded.”

Today, Cassidy has production and sales reports that provide up-to-date cost and yield information in either plant production codes or customer specified codes. The company is now expanding into foodservice and retail distribution of fresh and frozen fish and specialty products into 11 states. The company also produces ice sculptures and sushi under the Seksui Sushi Express label.

Cassidy Fine Foods is leveraging its passion for fresh fish and a common sense approach to information technology into better service for its customers.

For more information:

Dave Bradshaw, Disc Design & Data, 847-501-6570, E-mail: dave@fishmonger.com, www.fishmonger.com