Aquaculture Stewardship Council continuing its US-wide campaign promoting sustainable aquaculture

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council event in Philadelphia.

In March 2022, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) was just launching the largest public marketing campaign in its history, visiting places across the U.S. to promote sustainable, aquaculture-raised seafood.

“We were just beginning a really exciting and interesting ride that was also a test,” Eric Davis, on behalf of ASC, told SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo North America – running in Boston from 12 to 14 March in Boston, Massachusetts.

The test was to see what kind of marketing effort would deliver the message of both ASC’s green label, and the wider message of sustainable aquaculture. The 2022 campaign, dubbed “New Way to Seafood,” was aiming to dispel falsehoods and public misconceptions about seafood and aquaculture and showcase how the ASC has been advocating for the industry and sustainability.

Part of that campaign involved stops in cities like Minneapolis and Miami and college campuses to hand out ASC-certified -seafood items in a direct marketing campaign that was the biggest investment the ASC had ever made in marketing to the public.

A year later, and the lessons that the ASC learned from the first campaign are being applied to a new second campaign with the tag and focus “Sea Green. Be Green”.

Part of those lessons, Eric said, will be applied to how the campaign is targeted – which will be both more broad and more narrow.

“Broad will be more activities similar to what we did last year, but direct is a more direct message than last year, because last year was just about introducing the new story of aquaculture to people, and this year it’ll be more direct about what the ASC certification means to shoppers, to retail, to chefs, to anyone in the supply chain,” Eric said.

This year, the campaign will still visit cities, with a series of deeper partnerships in places like Portland, Oregon; Southern California; and Washington D.C.

“We are in many ways replicating the type events we did last year, but bigger and better,” ASC North America Marketing Manager Athena Davis told SeafoodSource.

The new campaign, she said, will be a mix of different on-the-ground activities with a complimentary national digital and social campaign. The activities, she said, are being organized with a number of partners – including distributors, producers, and retailers.

“For example in Portland, Oregon we’re working with New Seasons Markets, and Riverence is one of the producers that we’re highlighting – they’re the first trout firm in the United States to become ASC certified, that was a really huge achievement,” Athena said.

The campaign is also focusing on college campuses in New England, major food festival events with thousands of people, the Great National Capital Barbecue Battle in Washington D.C. as the ASC works to put certified seafood directly in the hands of consumers via partnerships with chefs.

The common thread through all the events, Athena said, will talking about the ASC label and the story of aquaculture, which according to Athena was extremely successful last year – to a degree that surprised the ASC.

Athena said the organization had effectively “steeled itself” to harsh criticism and an uphill battle with advocating for sustainable aquaculture, expecting consumers to be extremely skeptical – if not outright hostile – when the ASC tried to tell its story.

“Last year we prepared for that, because you prepare for all scenarios,” Eric said. “But there was zero pushback, 100 percent enthusiasm.”

Athena added that people still ask questions …

Photo courtesy of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council

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