By Chris Loew, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Osaka, Japan
Published on 24 February, 2013
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) has been making the rounds on the trade show circuit in Japan to promote the brand awareness for the state’s seafood.
At the 47th Supermarket Trade Show 2013, on 13 to 15 February at Tokyo Big Sight, the organization displayed point-of-purchase materials, distributed an Alaska Seafood Buyer's Guide, showed promotional videos and offered smoked salmon tasting.
By participating in the show, which featured about 1,200 exhibitors and received over 80,000 visitors, ASMI hoped to raise brand awareness at supermarkets, department stores and convenience stores with the theme, “The natural taste, from Alaska.” ASMI was included with other U.S. exhibitors in the American Pavilion organized by the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Agricultural Trade Office.
The Seafood and Technology Expo is held in both Tokyo and Osaka, with the Tokyo show — held in August — being the bigger of the two. ASMI regularly participates in Tokyo, but this was its first trade show in Osaka. The Osaka show had about 200 booths, but was combined with the Agrifood Expo, a show featuring regional food specialties, to bring the total to 500 booths.
Also in attendance, Trident Seafoods promoted salmon and roe and snow crab. Sales Manager Yoichi Suzuki said snow crab sales have been more affected by Japan’s depressed economy than by Russian competition. He also noted that while snow crab currently is mainly a Kansai region dish, it is slowly gaining popularity in the Tokyo area.
ASMI’s booths at all three shows were staffed by Benjamin Roitblat of its Japan advertising representative, Avia Marketing Garden Ltd. Roitblat said that while the Tokyo Seafood and Technology Expo is exclusively for seafood, the hodgepodge of exhibitors at the Supermarket Show and the Osaka Seafood and Technology Expo/Agrifood Expo might have made it harder for seafood buyers to locate the ASMI booth.
When speaking to visitors, Roitblat highlighted the promotional help ASMI can offer, including point-of-sale materials, event coordination, recipes and PR. He noted that ASMI and his agency are not rated on how much seafood is exported to Japan, but on brand awareness in the trade and among consumers.
“At the supermarket show, we were next to a poultry company, but if they were looking for American foods they found us in the American Pavilion. Here, we’ve got lettuce across the aisle,” he said.
Still, his feeling about the response at each show was positive. At the Osaka show, he said, “We thought 100 brochures would be enough, but we’ve given them all out and now we’ve moved on to passing out the fact sheet instead.” Roitblat added that ASMI plans to return to the show.