Supplier Watch: Promoting shellfish in the market

Shellfish can be tricky. There are many different species of shellfish and the information surrounding mollusks can oftentimes be confusing for a consumer. The Shellfish Association of Great Britain is a veteran in shellfish marketing and offers some tips in promotion and consumer education that will contribute to increased shellfish sales.

Shellfish market growth: diversification in key

Ensure that your marketing efforts are all-inclusive. Avoid pigeon-holing yourself into representing just one species. 

For example, the Oyster Merchants and Planters Association changed its name to the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, reflecting a move away from the prominence of oysters toward a focus on a wider variety of shellfish species.  Expanding their branding has allowed them the growth they desired, and they now offer over 30 different species of shellfish.

And of course, don’t turn your back on lesser known mollusks.  They may be the newly fished ones, such as squid, cuttlefish and octopus. 

Species on the rise: listen to chefs and retailers

Know what foodservice providers are up to. The big ones can influence the decline or success of a species and you want to know about their decisions before they hit the marketplace.

For example, a big foodservice company recently put Spider Crabs on their list of supplied species, impacting the supply chain and helping to increase demand for the species.

Keep a pulse on chef activity, they can dictate trends. Demand for Razor Clams, for example, has increased as a result of chefs promoting and using them in the media and thereby creating consumer demand and interest in the species.

Selling oysters: consumer-friendly marketing

Oysters are slippery and smooth and not conducive to mainstream cuisine. Getting new consumers to try oysters is the central issue facing the growth of the oyster market. Help consumers overcome their wariness of oysters by educating them on the species’ attributes through various marketing initiatives:

1) Develop marketing campaigns to explain to consumers that different species of oysters have different taste profiles.

2) Create an Oyster Tasting Guide that includes the various native species and foreign harvested oysters, and/or establish a tasting menu for oysters so consumers can try new species.

3) Create a recipe booklet for cooked oysters for those who don’t like raw. Get celebrity chefs to donate recipes for the public, which can be offered at events and tradeshows.

Shellfish Health Value: spread the word

Misinformation about shellfish has created an uphill battle for shellfish sales.  An aggressive marketing campaign to promote the health profile of shellfish is not only merited, but essential for further growth. 

Change the industry misconception that shellfish raises blood cholesterol level by finding the proof in research.  For example, research conducted by The University of Surrey at Guilford proved that a high prawn diet did not raise blood cholesterol and confirmed that saturated fat (not shellfish) raises cholesterol.  Publish this research in a pamphlet for distribution in retail and foodservice establishments. Partner with larger organizations that may want to get involved promoting the shellfish health message in order to leverage market share and increase visibility to your campaign.


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