Alternative Seafood Marketing

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Matching Alternative Marketing Opportunities with the N.H. Commercial Fishing Industry's Alternative Marketing Capacity

Charles French, Extension Associate Professor of Economic Development, UNH (603.862.0316, charlie.french@unh.edu)

Commercial fishing has been a vital component of New England's economy for centuries. However, during the last decade an influx of low-cost, imported seafood has displaced domestic seafood in many commercial markets. Recent federal regulations — specifically, the shift to sector management and quota allocations for groundfish — have contributed to a reduction in New Hampshire's total catch and its fleet. This has led fishermen to explore alternatives to increase their profits by reducing the costs of handling, transportation, processing and distribution by out-of-state distribution agents.

Despite efforts to establish and capitalize on alternative, direct-to-consumer markets, direct sales represent only a fraction of the total fish catch in the state and the full market potential and capacity for expansion remains unclear. French and collaborating researchers will examine data from previously conducted consumer surveys to characterize seafood preferences by potential consumers within a half-day-goods-distance of N.H. ports where fishermen unload their catch (approximately 150 miles). As with the consumer data, national data on retailer preferences will be examined to determine what factors retailers, restaurants, fish mongers and other alternative venues consider when purchasing seafood products from their suppliers.

Researchers will geographically delineate the potential market for local, sustainably-caught seafood, characterize demand and preferences by existing market outlets, identify opportunities to develop new alternative markets, and assess the N.H. seafood industry's capacity to capitalize on alternative markets and/or expand traditional markets. In addition, they will identify best practices for tapping into local and regional alternative markets. These results will help the N.H. commercial fishing industry to be better positioned to deal with further regulatory changes and less susceptible to competition by low-cost imports.