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Aquaculture Stewardship Council Hits the Road to Promote Certified Seafood

Organization shares the successful results of its largest marketing investment
Fall in Love With Farmed Seafood
Last October, Twin Cities seafood grocer Coastal Seafoods was the venue for an in-store Fall in Love With Farmed Seafood promotion highlighting a variety of ASC-certified products.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has wrapped up the first year of its unprecedented North American marketing campaign, which showcased responsibly raised seafood with 50-plus industry partners through a range of in-person events and online activations reaching millions of consumers. So far, the wide-ranging endeavor is going swimmingly.

Launched at last year’s Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston, the campaign — the largest promotions investment in ASC’s history — strives to educate consumers on the benefits of certified seafood while explaining the difference and value of ASC certification.

[Read more: "Inflation Raises Seafood Prices, Dampens Consumption After Record Pandemic Sales"]

“This is at least a three- to five-year campaign, and each year [we] are continuing to expand into new markets with an array of retail promotions, restaurant events, food festivals and other activations in partnership with ASC-certified producers and distributors, chefs, retailers and other companies working with ASC-certified and -labeled seafood,” notes Dr. Mark Lang, senior marketer at Wilmington, N.C.-based ASC USA. “Each year, as we add more markets, we also nurture and revisit markets and partners from prior years. [W]e’re going deep into key regions to build our awareness from store to store, chef to chef, and kitchen to kitchen.”

Asked about highlights of the 2022 campaign, Lang responds: “One of our favorite retail partnerships was with Coastal Seafoods — the trendy Twin Cities seafood grocer owned by Fortune Fish & Gourmet, a longtime supporter of ASC’s program. Last October — National Seafood Month – and into November, they held a joint promotion, Fall in Love With Farmed Seafood, in stores and at their café. The celebration highlighted a variety of ASC-certified products by offering month-long specials, a chef-driven sampling event, certified café menu items, and education about responsible aquaculture and ASC’s sea green label to shoppers in-store and online. … The partnership earned multiple local and national news stories, a wide array of social media coverage, and sampling to thousands of consumers.”

More in Store

ASC plans to continue its campaign with new and bigger activations in Portland, Ore.; Southern California; and Washington, D.C. The North American marketing team will reveal its 2023 theme and an array of new partnerships at SENA 2023, taking place March 12-14 in Boston.

Offering a sneak peek at what’s on tap this year, Lang asserts: “We’re renewing our campaign with a heavier-hitting message: Sea Green. Be Green. This is a nod to ASC’s sea green label, which serves as a powerful assurance tool.” According to Lang, ASC is the only seafood certification that ensures supply chain integrity from the farm to the store, provides the most comprehensive transparency through public disclosure, and protects the environment, workers and communities. 

The organization will also present at least three more ASC Summits during the year, taking major North American retailers to tour countries producing ASC-certified and -labeled seafood in the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and South America. “The ASC summits have played a crucial role in building awareness of ASC-certified and -labeled seafood for retailers, alongside our consumer-focused marketing campaign,” affirms Lang.

Regarding city-specific activities, he provides an enticing taste of what’s ahead. In Portland, there will be an Earth Month promotion with Bamboo Sushi and Blue Ocean Mariculture, and a National Seafood Month activation with New Seasons Market and Riverence. Southern California will play host to summer sampling activations with Santa Monica Seafood, featuring a variety of ASC-certified producers and products, as well as fall restaurant experiences and festivals. Our nation’s capital will be the site of the D.C. Barbecue Battle festival with Laguna Blanca Salmon, not to mention summer dining experiences with Congressional Seafood.

“We want to remind shoppers that not all aquaculture is the same — and neither are certifications,” says Lang. “We also want to have real conversations with retailers about not settling for something less, and the risks of making claims about responsible or sustainable seafood that can’t be verified.” 

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