Fresh Vrs Frozen Debate – Why Frozen Wins Everytime!

Allison Hepworth - January 11, 2024

broken seafood system fish fishing flash frozen fresh vs frozen frozen is better frozen seafood industrial seafood

(Photo credit: Bruce Martinelli. Flash frozen albacore tuna)

We often get asked, ” is fresh seafood better than frozen?”, and our resounding answer is – no, that is a myth!

Many people believe that “fresh” seafood that is “never frozen” directly reflects the level of quality. However, the moment seafood is caught or harvested, it starts to degrade, and the best way to stop the clock so to speak, is to freeze or cook it. So with that in mind, seafood that is cooked, canned or frozen as soon as it is caught, is at its peak. 

But this is counter to consumer belief, which is supported by the current and traditional seafood industry dominated by global supply chains. In this system, “fresh” fish is often much less fresh than advertised, but often more expensive – thus consumers perceive it to have higher value. This ‘fresh’ seafood is often shipped long distances before it makes it to market. It often sits for weeks on ice aboard fishing vessels in auctions, distribution centres, loading docks, trucks, and warehouses before it gets to your plate. At that point, it’s not exactly fresh anymore, and often goes to waste.

A little known fact is that:  70% of seafood in Canada is imported while 90% is exported!

So, in all likelihood, the seafood you find at grocery stores or in restaurants has travelled a long way. What’s more, seafood changes hands many, many times before arriving at its destination; a system that leads to all sorts of transparency issues like mislabelling and fraud. Not only that, but it also means fishermen are paid unbearably low prices to make room for the profit margins of all those middle-men!

This is where Skipper Otto comes in and why we predominantly sell frozen fish and shellfish, along with canned goods. By using flash-freezing technology, we can preserve the high-quality catch of our small scale fishers and pay them equitably for it.

This also enables Canadians better access to Canadian seafood, since fishers can take their time finding ideal local markets for their preserved catch instead of being forced to sell to the usual “fresh-fish” export-oriented buyers, often for pennies on the dollar before it spoils.

So whether they live near the coast in BC or across the country, flash-freezing means Skipper Otto members enjoy reliably high-quality seafood. In our model, everyone wins. Fishing families get to keep their traditional way of life and seafood fans are able enjoy the most delicious, west coast seafood.

But don’t just take our word for it, a few years ago, our American friends at EcoTrust conducted a blind taste test, and put the fresh versus frozen debate to a test, and you guessed it, frozen won. This tells us that the “fresh over frozen” myth is just that: a myth. In their findings, fresh-never-frozen fish does not taste better than flash-frozen fish and in many cases, the opposite is true! The implications of this fresh vs frozen discovery are huge—for you and for local fishing families.

So if a fish being “fresh” doesn’t mean that it’s good quality, flash-freezing, on the other hand, is a proven way of preserving a fish’s quality. And as Ecotrust tells us  “Consumer testing results indicate that flash-frozen fish can be a fresher, higher quality product than never-frozen fish purchased at retail.”

Click this LINK to read the full findings by Ecotrust.

Written by: Sonia Strobel

Allison Hepworth - January 11, 2024

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Fresh Vrs Frozen Debate – Why Frozen Wins Everytime!

Allison Hepworth - January 11, 2024

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