How many food businesses have been steadily staying the course, innovating with product diversification and continuing to build a loyal customer base.? Looking at the food supply chain in 2020 and 2021 - not many.
Meet a generational fisher family that remains laser focused on what best serves the individual purchasing their seafood. At Sena Sea, it seems that customer service might best be described as custom service.
As a food scientist who has been immersed in a family of fishers and natural health professionals, Sena Wheeler knows well the merits of omega-3 rich seafood. As a cookbook author and formidable recipe developer, she has the know how to demonstrate applications through her business and website for individuals following a myriad of dietary food plans. Combining seafood offerings, health benefits and preparation guidance already explains Sena Sea's differentiation for direct-to-door seafood.
"We don't supply when we can't supply, says Sena" This is a critical differentiation from retailers and wholesalers, alike. "Our Alaska wild fishery is seasonal and we follow sustainable fishing practices. When we make our catch, we get it out to our customers. " Sena Sea seamlessly pulls product from their affiliated Cordova, Alaska, 60 North Seafoods allowing them a robust diversity and inventory of fresh caught seafood. Yet, when that seasonal selection is sold, they do not reach out to source elsewhere. "This way, I can feel confident in the supply chain, the taste and the nutrient value for our customers.", says Sena.
"Besides being the only white fish rich in Omega 3, Black Cod has an incredible silky texture. I serve it to my children the night before testing at school. I call it brain food." - Sena Wheeler
When you look at Sena Sea's on-line store, you will see another difference that puts the customers first - a diverse and growing selection of product options. "One of our customer favorites is the seafood chop." Sena explains, "The chopped seafood is spooned off the backbone of the fish, which just happens to be the location of the highest concentration of omega 3's. " The options are endless for utilizing the chop - from salad and/or veggie toppings to burgers. Even plant-based eaters feel comfortable using the chop sparingly to provide flavor, texture and something special.
Here is another eye-catching offering (below) for those prescribing or subscribing to dietary health plans.
While Black Cod has been more familiar for Chef's at premium restaurants, it is often referred to as a favorite by the discerning fishermen. "Besides being the only white fish rich in omega 3, it has an incredible silky texture.", Sena comments. I serve it to my children the night before testing at school. I call it brain food, It is also a fun to serve and share because it is easy to cook and tastes like an incredible gourmet meal at home.
"Our best kept secret is the Sampler Bundle", says Sena. The bundle offers a selection of 4 salmon and 4 white fish. The products come from the freshest catch with some variations of product form to keep the customer engaged in the seasonality and provide transparency on the harvest/catch process in a sustainable fishery. Sena explains, "It gives our customers a stronger connection to us and our fisheries, as well as giving them a variety of meal options throughout the year. "
The shopping cart displays, the species, product forms and packages including some of the consistent favorites - Smoked Salmon in Glass Jars, Sockeye and King Salmon (nature willing) portions, Halibut and Black Cod.
The option for subscribing to a selected box has solved the issue of having a consistent supply and quality of seafood on hand at home.
Customers save money and more through a subscription. "I like to recommend a larger shipment with less frequency to lower the carbon footprint of an order. Less packaging and handling all helps. I also frequently guide customers who have the freezer space that this helps them save money, as well.", Sena explains. "They appreciate the thought that goes into this guidance for their money and their role in moderating their footprint.
Subscription offers one additional benefit. They are first in line. They are our regular customers who have a plan and made a commitment and therefore their selections are a priority at Sena Sea. It is important to remember that these are seasonal products reliant on nature. There is a finite supply.
The Landscape For Consumers
We were curious about consumer behavior over the past couple of years. "As you know, for some, the seafood counter in retail grocery can get confusing. Our job is to educate and make easy selecting the right product for our customers." says Sena. "You will see that we sell in 6 oz. portions for people to more easily make their meal plans. They simply need to know the number of people they are feeding and how frequently." The striking packaging differentiates their product in the freezer making it easy to distinguish and show the comfort of Sena Sea's accountability to their products.
Sena explained that there has been a concern about sourcing over the last couple years with a growth in appeal to buy from an independent, family-owned business. They like having a meal that they can easily defrost in 30 minutes and be ready to prepare and serve - it's easy. The direct-to-door has been a safety and convenience factor for many of the customers. "The trust factor is huge", says Sena. "They have wanted to feel confident their food is coming from a trusted source in a trusted manner." For that reason, Sena Sea offers the one-time purchase in their on-line store. "I want people to have access to try our product without requiring them to commit to a subscription plan.", explains Sena. "We want to earn their trust and have a long and successful relationship."
Collaborations Going Forward:
Sena Sea will continue to grow its on-line store and seek out clients who value an independent, family-owned food business featuring quality foods that are both tastefully appealing and nutrient rich. Health professionals who are working with clients on dietary health plans are welcome to inquire about subscription plans with and for their patients and clients. The opportunities for growing access, recipes and demonstrations of contributing to a healthy lifestyle, by including wild seafood is endless and Sena Sea is moving forward on this solution path for its customers and collaborative business partnerships.
For more information on the family origins of Sena Sea, check out this story published in National Fisherman, June 2021.
Sena Wheeler, CEO