If you’ve ever been to the Jacksonville Farmers Market on West Beaver Street, you’ve passed by a large, yet somewhat unremarkable complex on the opposite side of the street. Occupying two city blocks, this former southeastern distribution facility for the now defunct A&P supermarket chain has transformed. Today, it is a USDA-inspected powerhouse containing one of Jacksonville’s most successful enterprises and one of this country’s leading seafood operators. After 65 years, Beaver Street Fisheries is quietly, and very successfully, sourcing, processing and delivering an impressive variety of high-quality frozen seafood to restaurants, foodservice operators and supermarkets throughout the country, in Canada and the Caribbean, right here from the First Coast.
Above photo: Lloyd Carter, assistant general manager and director of operations for Beaver Street Fisheries, stands in front of a historic photo of original fish market founded in 1950.
Founded by brothers Alfred and Hans Frisch in 1950, Beaver Street Fisheries began as a small retail fish store with just a handful of employees. Originally from Austria, the Frisch family fled the country when Hitler came to power during World War II. Once arriving to America, the Frisch brothers, along with their mother worked day and night to grow their business, providing Jacksonville’s restaurants, hotels and grocery stores with seafood. Over the decades, the company grew exponentially, and today it is a $550 million enterprise that employs more than 400 individuals. Carefully managed by four generations of the Frisch family, Beaver Street Fisheries is a vital contributor to Jacksonville’s growing economy and an active participant in a large number of this city’s leading business support, cultural and charitable organizations.
“We are proud to be a part of Jacksonville’s thriving and ever-improving business environment. Whether it is our sponsorships and support of our local sports teams, proactive role within the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, or the charitable support we provide to a variety of institutions across the city, we are delighted to give back to our community,” says Mark Frisch, executive vice president of Beaver Street Fisheries.
When it comes to seafood, you would be hard pressed to find greater variety. With links to fisheries and aquaculture operators all over the world, Beaver Street Fisheries offers an extensive variety of finfish such as tuna, cod, snapper and whiting as well as shellfish options that include crab, shrimp, scallops, lobster and clams.
Beaver Street Fisheries recognizes that many of the world’s watersheds are being over-fished and irreparably damaged. It takes environmental responsibility seriously as a company, carefully managing its supplier relationships by making sure that the companies it partners with have similar commitments to seafood integrity, food safety, fisheries management and conservation. It is the strength of these relationships, coupled with outstanding customer service, which have allowed the company to thrive for almost seven decades.
In order to maintain credible levels of product integrity, undeniable food safety, fisheries sustainability, and meaningful social responsibility, the company vigorously embraces globally recognized operational standards and benchmarks. Beaver Street Fisheries was the first seafood re-packing plant in the world to obtain a Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification, an international, third-party organization that confirms environmentally and socially responsible practices under which seafood is produced and is part of the Global Aquaculture Alliance. They also work with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to certify its wild caught seafood supply chain and is part of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) that develops and implements improvement projects for both wild and farm-raised species. The company is also a leader in food safety.
With so much seafood passing through their doors, you’d expect flocks of sea gulls circling overhead coupled with that unmistakable pong of old fish drifting through the neighborhood. Fortunately, there isn’t a trace of either. Lloyd Carter, assistant general manager at Beaver Street Fisheries, takes this observation as a compliment. “We work very hard to maintain a clean, sanitary and safe operational environment. If you’re looking for odors, because we use water treated with ozone to clean our facility, it frequently smells more like a gentle summer rain,” he says. The alternatives to using ozone gas, which reverts back to oxygen in twenty minutes, for sanitation are chemicals such as chlorine, quaternary ammonia and iodofores. Injected into the processing water stream, ozone is much safer for both employees and for the seafood.
Beaver Street Fisheries is still growing, constantly improving supplier relationships, and making plans that will allow them to better service its existing customers. The company has come a long way from its origins as a little fish market in West Jacksonville, all with a watchful eye on sustainability and conservation.
In the background the current warehouse facility is state-of-the-art, processing and shipping seafood worldwide, while the original production building still stands as a testimony to the history of the company.
Mark Frisch, executive vice president of Beaver Street Fisheries.
Beaver Street fisheries was founded by the Frisch family over six decades ago, delivering seafood to the region’s restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.
A worker packages red lobster tails two to a pack on a conveyor packaging line in the production facility.
A worker opens a bulk package of snow crab leg clusters in the production facility before packaging them for sale.
Workers package and weigh Canadian lobster tails in the production facility.
A warehouse worker moves pallets of boxed seafood products into the freezer section of the warehouse for storage.