What's in a Name? Everything


Steven Hedlund

Published on
October 2, 2008

Negative characterizations are tough to shake. The "imitation" label surimi-seafood products were required to prominently display is still clear in consumers' minds, nearly two years after marketers were allowed to ditch the unappetizing term and call surimi seafood what it really is - minced whitefish, typically Alaska pollock.

But instead of dwelling on the past, one company is looking to the future by determinedly promoting surimi seafood's numerous attributes.

Is it working? "It's a matter of time," says Lou Shaheen, VP of sales and marketing for Trans-Ocean Products.

Thursday morning, the Lifetime Television program "The Balancing Act" reran an advertising segment featuring Trans-Ocean corporate chef Mark Ross. A similar segment dubbed "Kitchen Spaces" also has aired on the Food Network and Women's Entertainment.

During the three-and-a-half-minute "Balancing Act" segment, which debuted a month ago, Ross repeatedly listed surimi seafood's numerous attributes - it's healthy (heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids), convenient (fully cooked and pasteurized), sustainable (domestic Alaska pollock is Marine Stewardship Council certified) and affordable (an 8-ounce package of Trans-Oceans' Crab Classics costs about $3).

He voiced the word "imitation" only once, just so viewers knew what he was referring to: "Most people know the word 'imitation crab.' But the name has been changed to 'surimi seafood.' Surimi is nothing more than minced wild Alaska pollock."

Surimi-seafood marketers can't erase the past - the "imitation" or "fake" characterization attached to surimi seafood may never go away entirely. But by aggressively promoting the product's numerous qualities, marketers can influence consumers to put the positives (healthy, convenient, sustainable and affordable) ahead of the perceived negatives and rejuvenate the surimi-seafood market, which has struggled to grow over the past decade.

Best regards,
Steven Hedlund
Associate Editor
SeaFood Business

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500