Coronavirus concerns spur seafood industry to launch health-focused campaign
A newly-formed coalition of U.S. seafood industry organizations is launching a 12-week consumer marketing campaign to encourage Americans to eat more seafood during the coronavirus crisis.
The Seafood4Health Action Coalition includes 22 participating organizations, including the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute; Aquaculture Stewardship Council; Aquarium of the Pacific, Seafood for the Future; Chilean Salmon Marketing Council; Coastal Culinary Academy; FishChoice; FishWise; FMI: The Food Industry Association, Seafood Strategy Leadership Council; Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers; Global Aquaculture Alliance; Global Salmon Initiative; Maine Aquaculture Association; Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association; Marine Stewardship Council; Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch; National Fisheries Institute, NOAA Fisheries & Aquaculture; Pacific Seafood Processors Association; Sea Pact Seafood Harvesters of America; Seafood Nutrition Partnership; and SeaShare.
The coalition’s new campaign, “Eat Seafood, America,” is aimed at helping Americans stay healthy during the COVID-19 public health crisis, with a secondary goal of helping to boost the U.S. seafood economy, which includes two million U.S. workers, according to the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, which organized the Seafood4Health Action Coalition. SNP is a nonprofit organization formed in 2013 to address seafood deficiency in Americans’ diets and to build awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of seafood.
The multi-pronged marketing effort encourages consumers to boost their immune system by eating seafood weekly, SNP said in its announcement.
“In addition to staying home and social distancing, staying healthy with good food and nutrition is one thing we can do to help boost our immune system and reduce the suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said. “We all need to do our part to stay healthy and take pressure off our healthcare system. Higher intakes of specific nutrients appear to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body, and fish and shellfish are rich in many of these important nutrients.”
Anyone can join the #EatSeafoodAmerica movement, and can utilize messages, photos, and other assets for social media marketing on EatSeafoodAmerica.com. Consumers and industry representatives are being encouraged to post a photo of their seafood meal and use the hashtag #EatSeafoodAmerica.
“It’s free to participate. We ask everyone to be positive in their messaging,” SNP said.
Leaders of the initiative are hoping that Americans buy more seafood both for their own health, and to help stem significant losses currently being experienced by the U.S. seafood industry as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The first of those losses became public recently, when King and Prince Seafood, owned by Nissui, announced via the U.S. state of Washington’s “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification” system that it has temporarily laid off nearly 150 employees. Of those, 116 employees were temporarily laid off effective 30 March from the company’s Redmond, Washington, locations – which house corporate offices and a production plant. A further 31 were laid off from the company’s Bellingham, Washington, location, effective 6 April.
“We want to be sure consumers are encouraged to eat seafood at home as a replacement strategy for restaurant dining and loss of access to restaurants. Our proprietary research shows that a high percentage of salmon consumption was occurring in foodservice,” Chilean Salmon Marketing Council Director James Griffin told SeafoodSource. “As the loss of access to foodservice sets in and consumers recover from the shock of having to cook or consume most if not all of their meals at home, it is very important to promote consumption of seafood and consumer literacy when it comes to selecting and cooking seafood.”
Griffin’s organization recently launched a complementary campaign, “Salmon: Super Simple! Superfood!” which offers consumers recipes using packaged goods (perceived as safer to procure at grocery or online) and fresh or frozen salmon, Griffin said.
The Global Aquaculture Association is supporting the SNP campaign to encourage the role of responsibly farmed seafood in meeting global nutrition needs, Communications and Events Manager Steven Hedlund told SeafoodSource.
“We see our role of helping producers offer safe, sustainable seafood to the public as important as ever,” Hedlund said. “Though our work is global in scope, we step in where we can and support domestic causes such as Eat Seafood America.”
While there is a “social, even patriotic halo” over U.S.-produced seafood, chef and author Barton Seaver told SeafoodSource, all seafood – so long as it is responsibly-sourced – should be touted to U.S. consumers.
“We represent one industry that operates and collaborates to bring healthy food to the table,” he said “While I certainly think it is admirable to laud the specific virtues of domestically-produced seafood, the bottom line is that we need a unified message. Seafood is seafood: whether farmed of wild, whether import or domestic – as far as I'm concerned, responsibly sourced seafood should be on the table.”
However, SNP President Linda Cornish said she was encouraged by the wide industry participation the movement has collected.
“This is a chance for the entire seafood community to come together and connect emotionally with consumers at home,” Cornish said. “Let’s work together to encourage consumers to stay healthy with seafood and help the seafood community.”