North Carolina Sea Grant
Coastwatch Currents

Coastwatch Currents

October 21, 2014 | Sara Mirabilio

By Sara Mirabilio

Carved pumpkins

The new must-have jack-o’-lantern: the anglerfish pumpkin? Perhaps not. Photo by C.P. “Buster” Nunemaker, III/N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

In case you haven’t noticed, in the past few weeks, the airwaves and cyberspace have been awash with features on a California farmer who is growing pumpkins that are shaped like a Frankenstein head.

Tony Dighera grew about 5,500 frankenpumpkins this year on his farm in Southern California. The trick: At just the right size, the pumpkin is put into a plastic mold shaped like the face of Frankenstein. At a wholesale price of $75 each — they retail at a whopping $100 PER PUMPKIN — his whole crop is already spoken for.

And in case you missed this, too, Dighera, who has been experimenting with growing watermelons in various shapes of plastic molds since 2010, grows his own square- and heart-shaped watermelons, which he has been selling for $40 each over the past year. He even was able to grow fruits with logos imprinted on them and sold branded watermelons to major retailers, such as Whole Foods.

So, what does this have to do with fish you might ask? Simply, we need a frankenfish — or maybe, lots of ‘em.

And no, I’m not talking about genetically engineered fish in the bayou.

Smoked crab

North Carolina Sea Grant helped a fisherman develop this smoked soft crab, enhancing flavor and stabilizing price. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

This story is a classic example of value addition, something that North Carolina Sea Grant has been trying to assist fisherman and fish processors in our state with for years. Some examples include a smoked soft crab (pictured), crab cakes and seafood spreads.

In general, adding value is the process of changing or transforming a product from its original condition to a more valuable state, to make what is called a “value-added” product. The key is figuring out what consumers want, when they want it and where they want it — then make it and provide it to them. Easy-peasy, right? Not so much.

Don’t know where to start? Check out this North Carolina Sea Grant publication, downloadable off our website: Ready-to-Sell: Developing Value-Added Seafood Products. Of course, you’re always welcome to give extension specialists like myself a holler.

Value added provides substantial benefits, notably the ability to sell the new product for a higher price than in its raw form. And as many readers of this blog know, the allowable amount of wild-caught fish is on the decline. The longevity of the state’s seafood industry rests on getting the most value out of every fish and shellfish harvested. And, if a whole product line can be spoken for up front, it generates cash in-hand to pay living expenses, cover income taxes and make timely debt payments.

So, get on your creative thinking hats and show me your frankenfish.

Happy Halloween!

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