Gloucester books seafood trade show for third year

The city once again will venture into the wilds of South Boston to promote of the area’s seafood bounty at the annual Seafood Expo North America trade show that has become a staple for the international seafood industry.

This is the third consecutive year the city will have an exhibitor booth at the sprawling event that is scheduled for March 19 to 21 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

“We felt that last year was a great success and we’re going to try to go even bigger this year,” said Sal Di Stefano, economic development director for the city.

Continuing its collaboration with the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, the Gloucester Fisheries Commission and SnapChef, the city is moving to a corner booth in 2017 to increase its visibility and access to participants. The booth has been named the Gloucester Fresh Pavilion.

Its strategy once again includes cooking demonstrations on Sunday and Monday featuring the Fishermen’s Wives recipe for fish cakes using hake and pollock.

The scheduling of the show this year, however, is more complicated than in the past. It opens on Sunday, which coincides with the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie and with the local celebrations of the Feast of St. Joseph.

The city first participated in the show in 2015 and solidified its presence last year, when it doubled the size of its booth and hosted a number of events designed to promote the city’s Gloucester Fresh seafood brand while affording local seafood companies the opportunity to network with the thousands of processors, wholesalers and retailers that flock to the show.

“We’re bringing a special focus this year on working with Gloucester seafood businesses to promote in-show meetings with wholesalers, retailers and processors,” Di Stefano said. “We’ll make the space available. That way they can meet with prospective customers and they’re not just standing in the aisle.”

The Gloucester booth became a magnet for foot traffic last year, with guests lured with free hot samples of the Fishermen’s Wives’ redfish soup and former Patriot Jarvis Green’s shrimp in hot sauce, as well as cold samples from Cape Ann Brewing Co.

“Lots of people have told me this was the hit of the show,” Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said at the time.

Still, it got so crowded at times last year that exhibitors at neighboring booths actually complained and Di Stefano spent a portion of his afternoon apologizing for the Gloucester spillover.

The waves of people flooding the Gloucester booth actually pushed show organizers to institute noise and capacity limits at the exhibition booths that house more than 1,000 exhibitors from more than 40 countries.

According to organizers, 70 percent of participants hail from the United States and about 9 percent from Canada. Asia and Europe each accounted for about 8 percent, followed by Central and South America (4 percent).

The organizers also said their own marketing survey revealed that 78 percent of respondents were “involved with or influenced” major purchasing decisions for their respective companies.