Seafood industry marketers say they are seeing opportunities along with challenges in the midst of the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
“There is a huge opportunity here,” Gregory Jeffers of Gorton’s Seafoods, told participants in the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s All Hands on Deck virtual meeting, on Tuesday, November 11th. Given the number of consumers who have turned to purchasing frozen seafood, there is an opportunity to focus on the health aspect of seafood and the fact that consumers eating at home are taking more time to cook. “There are huge opportunities to help them get more comfortable with seafood,” he said. “Now is the time to connect with those consumers.”
Peter Vasil of Sysco Canada, Chris Follari of Sodexco Foods and others on the panel, agreed that with more people working from home because of the pandemic there was a real opportunity, with help from recipe cards and videos, to teach people how to cook a variety of seafood dishes at home. “We’ve found consumers finding themselves in a different environment were willing to experiment more at home,” Vasil said. “We have hired in each region a dozen or more center of the plate protein specialist to support sales, where they visit with customers and speak with them about Alaska seafood.”
“We are starting to see the need for minimalist use as possible for ingredients in seafood dishes, limited pieces of equipment,” Follari added. With some people still intimidated by seafood one pan dishes are great, and increased variety is needed, he said.
Guy Pizzuti, seafood category manager for Publix Super Markets, also emphasized the opportunity to help consumers have a restaurant experience at home.
“For 27 years customers did not know how to use seafood, but somewhere around May 2 people figured it out,” he said. “I don’t know how to cook it any more is no longer a challenge.” Pizzuti also emphasized the need for a variety of options for preparing various Alaska seafoods, and better transfer of seafood heated at the supermarket to the home.
Keith Brunell, corporate chef for Nordstrom, spoke about investments in recipe cuts, spice kits and recipe cards and telling better the story of Alaska’s seafood, plus multiple options for seafood use, including deviled eggs topped with king crab. There is also, Brunell said, the need for an ongoing focus on sustainability and social responsibility.
The younger generation is not going to let anyone off the hook,” he said.
ASMI’s All Hands On Deck continues through Thursday, November 12. Papers from the three-day session are online at www.alaskaseafood.org, plus more information about ASMI programs.