Gulf shrimp. (Photo: Eric Vance, www.epa.gov/bpspill)
USD 50mln to be spent on Gulf seafood marketing efforts
Monday, April 23, 2012, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
About USD 50 million worth of marketing efforts will hit the national market over the next two years in an effort to improve the perception of Gulf of Mexico seafood. Two recent surveys on perception of Gulf seafood show that it remains negative even though two years have passed since the BP oil spill.
Louisiana will get USD 30 million donated by BP and Alabama, Florida and Mississippi will share the rest.
Wes Harrison, a Louisiana State University professor of agribusiness marketing, is completing one of the surveys. It shows that 70 per cent of people in the US still have varying degrees of concern about Gulf seafood and about 30 per cent refuse to eat it -- these are about the same results he saw from surveys conducted last year.
People saw Gulf seafood more than seafood from other regions as "struggling" or "tainted," The Times-Picayune reports.
The second recently completed survey found similar results.
Indeed, seafood showing open sores, parasitic infections, gashes, black streaks and more have shown up in the Gulf, and scientists believe this may be a result of the oil spill.
Recent test results showed the presence of oil in the bile extracted from fish caught in August 2011, nearly 15 months after the spill, Associated Press reports.
However, the survey found that Gulf shrimp and crawfish were deemed the best compared to shrimp and crawfish from elsewhere in the country. Shrimp also had the biggest brand recognition of any other Gulf species and the most positive associations.
Still, only 19 per cent of respondents rated Gulf seafood as excellent, ranking it fifth behind Alaska, Maine, the Atlantic Northeast and the Pacific.
Marketing agents are thus recommending that the Gulf build its brand around its shrimp.
Similarly, marketers who analyzed the survey have advised that advertising campaigns focus on the Gulf and Deep South states first because Gulf residents were much more likely to see Gulf seafood as excellent in quality.
But Gulf residents still gave higher marks to Alaska, Atlantic Northeast and Maine seafood.
Alaskan seafood was seen as the most expensive but also the least generic, mediocre, ordinary and struggling -- and no one saw it as tainted despite Alaska's Exxon Valdez spill.
Mike Voisin, seventh generation oysterman, Chair of the Gulf Coast Seafood Coalition which represents the five Gulf Coast states and CEO of Motivatit Seafoods in Houma, believes the news going around regarding deformities found in Gulf seafood are misleading because it is safe to eat.
“There are three key points we’d like for you to take away: 1) when you eat seafood purchased from a local restaurant or retail store, you can be assured it meets the strictest of standards; 2) consumer demand for fresh, wild-caught seafood is on the rise; and 3) hardship can forge powerful partnerships, such as the Gulf Coast Seafood Coalition,” he said.
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