The Pricing of Fish - Producers, Wholesalers and Retailers
Protecting the wholesale price of fish is critical to the long term survival of this industry. I have recently heard of disturbing news of the public having access to certain prominent wholesalers’ pricelists and showing this pricing to their local retail store. This is not on and our response here at Aquatic Solutions is to review our current online customer base in order to protect you our valued retail customers. I will be closing down any customer accounts who are not actively purchasing stock with us and also who are not purchasing in bulk. Please do not take this the wrong way we take any breaches from our customer base very seriously and will be investigating if the breach was in fact from us. I can only assume the leak came from a retail store or their staff. Here at Aquatic Solutions access to our online account is tightly controlled (I dot even have access myself!) and only a retail store would have access to multiple wholesalers lists.
Due to recent events, discussions and altercations within the retail sector I believe we should be looking at ways in which the retail price of fish could be regulated. In particular, targeting certain retail stores who continue to undercut their pricing to the extent of retailing their fish at wholesale prices. Simply put stores selling fish at the same or similar price to that of a wholesaler. As a wholesaler I find it very difficult to support such activities considering the support is not being reciprocated by the retailer.
This kind of strategy used to get customers in their doors damages the long term price of those particular lines of fish as the public expects the price of those fish to be reset to that level and this new benchmark has crushed any profit margin for other retailers and not conducive to any forward progression and development for this industry.
A recent example of this is that we recently purchased some Silver Arowana as a means to offering our customers something new and exciting only to have certain stores sell this fish for the same price to the public. This means that other retail stores are not willing take the risk to purchase these fish and I am left stuck babysitting some very expensive stock. This once again points back to the producer not having a pricing strategy in place that allows both the retailer and wholesaler to coexist or just simply sells to anyone with cash. Similar things have happened in the past with Saratoga prices and other rare and highly sought after fish which results in a wholesaler being wary to stock such items or not stocking them at all. This basically comes down to the producer having no integrity or care for the future of this industry.
I have been thinking of strategies to protect myself and my customers from this kind of behaviour by speaking with my producers and even to the extent of exclusively purchasing all stock of certain lines in order to regulate and protect the price of certain fish. This is particularly important for rare and unique niche fish but is highly risky for a wholesaler as it is a big gamble if those fish will sell or not. I have some very well attuned producers who even go to the extent of culling certain lines in order to protect their pricing and not to flood the market, thus dropping the fish’s value. I only wish other producers could learn from this kind of long term strategy and care for this industry.
Another issue that keeps being brought to my attention via customer complaints is the presence of these fusion retail/wholesale businesses who are selling fish at wholesale prices direct to the public both online and through their shopfronts. I understand that they have their own quarantine facilities and need to import in bulk and subsequently need to on sell these fish to the public quickly this means they slash their prices and flood the market with cheap fish. This once again ruins the price of certain lines of fish. Are there no repercussions for this type of strategy? Whilst the retailers continue to point their fingers at wholesalers for our current predicament don’t these operators pose a greater immediate threat to this industry? I understand that there are no formal rules as to what one can or cannot do and that in the end everyone is out there to make a living but how can a wholesale company exist with these kinds of businesses operating with little or no care for the long term sustainability of this industry?
So what is the solution? Well this is a really difficult one and it basically comes down to ethics and for people to have some integrity for what they do and care for the future viability of this industry. I know this is probably not the solution we all would like but at this current moment in time there is no recourse or punishment available for stepping out of line. Possible ideas could be to:
-Strip offenders from their PIAA/AIAA memberships and cutting them off from support structures.
-Placing greater pressure on the producers themselves not to supply these operators directly, and thus cutting off the problem at the source.
- Naming and shaming these operators.
In the end it comes down all levels in this industry having accountability for our current situation. Retailers need to have a duty of care when sourcing their stock. We really need to ensure that producers only on sell to wholesalers, wholesalers only on sell to retailers and retailers only on sell to the public. This is the best means for us to achieve long term sustainability and growth for our industry.
Julian Wong B.Sc. Hons
JMW International Pty. Ltd. t/as Aquatic Solutions