Products such as Fish Trax Marketplace provide seafood traceability for consumers who want to know who caught and processed their fish. But aside from addressing seafood safety, does it make good business sense to do so? Actually it does, and let me tell you why.
Let me start with a story. My sister was visiting Newport and we had lunch locally at the Nye Beach Market. I recommended the tuna, because of its excellent taste and how well it is prepared. When the plate arrived, my sister said to me, “I want to know who caught my tuna.” I asked at the counter who had caught the tuna, and the chef pointed to two men standing nearby, Bob Aue and Paul Stannard, two of our local fishermen. “Bob there, he is the fisherman who caught your tuna.” So I told my sister and she could not believe that she could see who had caught her fish.
This reaction is not unusual. People not only want to know where their seafood comes from. They are pleased when they can know. Implementing a trace system can help those in the seafood supply chain, whether fishermen, first receivers and processors, restaurants, and seafood markets connect with those who care about the origins of the seafood. It can also help them to tell their story.
Here are some good value propositions for any seafood business to consider:
- increased pull from the market for fish in the program. In talking with one of a dealer in the Gulf of Mexico, he remarked that he had seen dramatic pull from one of his retailers since they joined a branded seafood trace program. We believe that products having branded traceability will be more desirable with many consumers than those which do not.
- Increased price per pound. Earlier this year, Seafood News reported that a portion of Americans (about 20%) would be willing to pay up to 10-20% more for sustainably caught seafood. At the Wild Seafood Exchange conference in Newport, Oregon this spring, a panelist was asked whether people would pay more for fish if they knew where it came from, and his answer was yes, that it could fetch an extra $1 or $2 in a restaurant. While one cannot guarantee this would be the case, I believe that with a strongly branded and marketed program, customers will join the community, and seek out and pay more for seafood having this brand.
- Increased visibility of seafood dealers and their vision. A visit to several Facebook pages for seafood dealers shows fewer than 100 Likes in the past year. Today, trace systems like Fish Trax Marketplace are averaging 100 viewings per week per restaurant.
- Direct communication with consumers. While many seafood dealers offers a business-to-business service, the end user is the seafood consumer. Although only a fraction of consumers are interested today in who caught and processed their fish, this is an important community for seafood dealers and processors to interact with. Such consumers are willing share their likes and dislikes, their concerns and passions. There is great value in reaching this population, and some trace systems now allow dealers to connect with these consumers.
We understand this is a new business model for any company involved in purveying quality seafood to engage in. However, in today’s mobile and social media age, this business model is exactly the right one to employ to reach a vast and thoughtful audience/market ready to engage as it never has before. Sure, there is an effort and a cost to join, but the costs are small while the rewards can be huge.