Supermarket Perimeter - April 2020 - 48

Seafood: Traceability

G

When consumers buy Alaskan seafood, they know they're buying wild,
sustainable fish.

of a focus. "They are demanding more transparency and traceability in
all products, especially when it comes to the seafood sector," Damato
said. "This is why we, as well as many other seafood companies, have
made it a prime focus on all that we do."
Consumers are increasingly aware of how the food they eat affects
their overall environmental impact, and for the majority of Americans
who are aiming to eat less meat in the years ahead, sustainable seafood
is a delicious and nutritious option.
"Gen Z shoppers in particular are more attuned to knowing where
their food comes from, making wild, sustainable seafood from Alaska
the top seafood choice for younger generations of shoppers," Rider said.
"When consumers seek out wild, sustainable seafood, a big concern is
making sure everything from the source to the species they take home
is actually what they've been sold on."
According to Lee, some consumers worry about the authenticity
and safety of food products because of food scares and general unease
about the modern world.
"But mostly they want simplicity and for trusted brands and retailers
to take care of the complexities on their behalf," he said. "That goes a
long way in easing any concerns."
Damato said customers are also more savvy about traceability and
more aware of what to look for, such as third-party certifications.
"That is one of the pillars of offering a really sustainable traceable
product," she said.
"It really takes the supplier to fill that program, have full traceability
and have their own systems in place. That means not only just providing ASC or MSC certified products, but a supplier needs to have a strong
network and a good system in place to show how a product is coming
onto the shelf."
48 - APRIL 2020

SP_Apr20.indb 48

Supermarkets can play an important role in alleviating the traceability
and transparency fears of consumers.
Rider noted an easy solution is simply calling out the origin so shoppers know exactly where the seafood comes from.
"Certain sources, like Alaska, are associated with quality and sustainability for consumers, so when consumers #AskForAlaska, they
can trust they are purchasing wild, sustainable fish every time," she
said. "Retailers can go further by being transparent on what labels-like
'sustainable'- mean, as well as providing stories behind the seafood.
Consumers are better able to trust a claim like 'wild' if it's accompanied
by the story of the fishermen who made the catch, for example."
Furthermore, Rider said, retailers can showcase the source and the
story of seafood offerings accurately and prominently, both in daily
offerings as well as in larger promotions highlighting seasonal species.
According to "Seafood Consumer of the Future," a recent Technomic
report, seafood spenders (tech-savvy consumers who make up 54%
of the seafood spend) are 58% more likely to buy seafood when they
see the Alaska Seafood logo. Rider noted this interest in origin extends
beyond location, with more shoppers fascinated by the whole story of
their seafood, including the fishermen who caught it.
"Sharing fishermen stories both on social media and instore can help
captivate shoppers and increase sales," she said. "ASMI works with retailers to tell the story behind the seafood they sell, including highlighting
origin, quality and sustainability as differentiators that make seafood
from Alaska some of the best in the world."
Lee believes supermarkets should stick to honest messaging about
the importance of safe, healthy food and the commitment of farmers to
deliver just that.
"Avoid over-romanticizing the role of small producers to the detriment of bigger, industrial suppliers," he said. "It's often the bigger players that take the lead on improving food safety and environmental and
social standards - big can be beautiful, too."
Compared to traders that set up in the marketplace or a farmer's market, supermarkets have a very different offering, a lot more responsibility
and they are held to higher standards. Therefore, Lee said the best way
to market traceability and transparency efforts is by doing what they
do best.
"Supermarkets have an army of people dedicated to sourcing safe
and responsibly produced food that customers are not aware of," Lee
said. "If I were a supermarket, I would run a story about a humble fish
finger. Explain all the wondrous connections, people, places, products
and processes involved. And then close by saying not to worry because
it's all been taken care of."
Aside from leaning on certifications, Damato said supermarkets
should be partnering with seafood companies who care about where
a product is sourced from and establishing strong relationships so they
can work together to get the word out about their traceability standards.
"We've been working with Whole Foods for a long time, and they really
started bringing that focus to consumers early on and set the tempo for
what a lot of other stores are doing today," she said. "In some ways, it
seems very simple, but it has been made very complicated because there
are so many different players involved. Working with partners who share
our same mission is key to a strong traceability program.

ASMI

The supermarket's role

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