Verlasso executives detail 2019 marketing strategy
Verlasso, a brand of AquaChile, has made significant investments in marketing its sustainable salmon brand to consumers, retailers and restaurants in recent months. The brand brought on television personality Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel, as a brand evangelist and to develop a documentary on Verlasso’s salmon production, from egg to plate.
Then, in mid-April, Victoria Parr, formerly domestic marketing director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, came on board as Verlasso’s new marketing director.
In an exclusive interview with SeafoodSource, Parr and Moises Del Rio, general manager of Verlasso’s United States operations, reveal Verlasso’s marketing initiatives for 2019.
SeafoodSource: Victoria, how are you enjoying life and work in Miami, Florida, versus your former home in Alaska?
Parr: It is so much fun to be in the midst of an exciting sales organization. There is so much energy here. The team is forward thinking and exciting - a cutting edge company. I am very happy to be involved with a company that is open to ideas and discussion. Also, I love the weather! My dogs are happier here. They are small, so they are better suited for this climate.
SeafoodSource: Moises, how will hiring Victoria move the company forward?
Del Rio: Having Victoria on board is a strong milestone. It’s a new position, so we are strengthening the marketing department. There is so much potential in the U.S. to keep growing awareness and sales of our brand, including opportunities we can explore in e-commerce and retail. We have big challenges ahead, but I’m sure with Victoria on board, we can meet those challenges.
SeafoodSource: Victoria, how can your experience with ASMI help grow sales at Verlasso?
Parr: My domestic marketing experience in the states was a great thing to bring here. I was able to usher in a new era of digital marketing with ASMI. It's that experience and the partnerships that I want to bring to Verlasso, such as exploring [relationships with] Instacart, Kroger’s Pickup (formerly ClickList) and Amazon.
SeafoodSource: Which new initiatives and marketing strategy is Verlasso exploring this year?
Parr: We are exploring brand extensions that would be easier to sell via companies like Pickup and Instacart. It is fast moving so we want to be on top of it. A lot of this is going to be partnership discussions regarding taking the brand with some sort of packaging right to the consumer. It could be frozen, value added, or shelf stable - we don’t know yet. We are just exploring ideas.
Del Rio: At retail, the end goal is to communicate the brand to consumers and explain how Verlasso is good for the environment. We are also trying to expand our presence beyond the seafood case, so the Verlasso brand is present in other points of sale in supermarkets. It could be frozen or even in the smoked category. Everything is in exploratory phases.
SeafoodSource: Can retailers and foodservice operators co-market wild and farmed salmon?
Parr: It is not either-or; it is both wild and farmed salmon. It’s important to reduce confusion in the category overall. To be able to support a growing demand for seafood, we can work together to increase the overall category and eliminate some confusion. I think the walls are coming down. More brands want to educate that aquaculture is good for the planet and their health when it is done right.
SeafoodSource: Moises, what are the challenges with current pricing of farmed salmon?
Del Rio: Commodity salmon is based on supply and demand and, according to that, price moves up and down. That goes for Canadian salmon, Scottish salmon, and everything. We have to maintain a more consistent and stable price strategy. We agree to long term pricing to avoid that fluctuation, for both retailers and restaurants.
SeafoodSource: What are the primary challenges Verlasso is facing?
Del Rio: The main challenges are increasing awareness and sales of the brand. We are promoters of Verlasso and promoters of sustainable seafood overall. That is why we are constantly on the street talking to chefs, the trades, NGOs, and others about how we can encourage and promote the consumption of sustainable seafood. In addition, consistency is important, so consumers know they are not just eating Atlantic farmed salmon, but they are eating Verlasso salmon. A person eating Verlasso salmon in California knows what he’s going to get when he sees it at a supermarket in New York, for example.