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Is there a Frank Perdue in the house? Or, marketing of value-added seafood.

Is There a Frank Perdue in the House? Or, Marketing of Value-Added Seafood

Who was that lady in the slide C. Richard Pace showed appreciative men at the International Seafood Conference in Luxembourg? She wasn't really his wife, but she had a couple of good points to make.

"More than 60% of the women with children work," Pace, a consultant for IPAC, Inc., pointed out. "Who can expect these poor women to come running home and spend three hours making a meal? And this doesn't include the increase in single women in the work force each year."

That's just in the United States, but Europe is catching up with American trends. "By the year 2000, at least 40% of all women in the EEC will be working," Pace noted. The rate is already 79% in Sweden, 35% in Britain and 27.5% in Spain. Moreover, the divorce rate is over 50% in both Europe and the USA, and divorced women deserve a break too.

Rescuing people from kitchen drudgery is what value-added convenience foods are all about. Folks are so tired of fixing meals that they've been dining out a lot more -- the amount spent eating away from home in the United States quintupled between 1970 and 1990, from $43 billion to $241 billion (European growth is comparable, Pace said), even though it obviously costs more to eat out than to eat at home.

But people are concerned about more than their time these days; they're worried about their health. "The consumer wants healthy products," Pace said. "Research tells us that six out of 10 consumers are interested in health and nutrition." In fact, 40% of all new products introduced in 1989 were marketed with health and nutrition claims. It's a great opportunity for the seafood industry.

"Seafood can solve these problems by making easy-to-use, nutritious, value-added products that will offer consumers the healthy products they so urgently need," he said. If everyone with high cholesterol, for example, were to eat just one eight-ounce portion of salmon a week, it would take more than 100 million pounds of salmon to meet the increased demand. Well, that would sure solve the problems of the salmon industry!

Convenience fish and seafood products are nothing new: consider fish sticks, which sold well 40 years ago and are still selling well. And every once in a while, there is another breakthrough: "In 1975, nobody ate catfish. Who would? It was an ugly, slimy fish. Well, the industry began selling catfish in skinless and boneless fresh and frozen fillets. Marinated fillets were offered, the price was relatively stable, and the quality was good and consistent. Look what happened to consumption. It grew tenfold in ten years -- all because the consumer was given what was wanted: a convenient, tasty, healthy product."

Give Perdue His Due

That's what the industry needs more of. But maybe what it also needs is a Frank Perdue to pull it off. Sure, chicken is the enemy, "chicken is evil," Pace said. But Perdue has a lesson to teach: "Here is a man who has taken our ugly chicken and, through product innovation, branded labeling and the introduction of more than 150 value-added, easy-to-prepare nutritional products, has helped the chicken and poultry industry to increase total per capita consumption from 43 to 63 pounds in the last 10 years."

Short of finding a seafood industry executive who looks as much like a fish as Perdue looks like a chicken, and can be as shameless in front of a camera, what can the industry do?

Pay attention to the evolving demographics, for one thing. "In 1980, the life expectancy was 65. In the year 2000, it will be 75. In the year 2000, the 55-year-old-plus market will spend an additional $76 billion. The 35-54 age bracket will spend $280 billion more in the year 2000 than today."

Today's baby boomers will want to spend more time and money on leisure, and the younger generation will be trying to emulate them. There will be microwaves everywhere -- in the kitchen, the boat, the car, even the bedroom. Men will become more like women and vice versa -- in domestic and career roles, that is -- and both will want more healthy, value-added, ready-to-eat meals. "The seafood industry is ideally positioned to capitalize on the trends of the '90s," Pace concluded.
COPYRIGHT 1992 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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