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QUINCY, Mass. -- The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. here is working with a local seafood processors group to hawk seafood as both an important part of consumers' dietary needs, and a crucial segment of New England's economy.
Beginning this week, the promotion is timed to coincide with National Fish and Seafood Month. Stop & Shop's 275 stores across Connecticut and Massachusetts will display educational posters at seafood counters, to impart information regarding the health benefits of seafood. The departments will also make available seafood recipes on tear-off cards. Stop & Shop will also display the logo of its partner in the promotion, the New England Seafood Producers Association, in the seafood sections of its weekly circulars.
For its part, NESPA has created a consumer-oriented Web site (http://www.eatseafood.org) that contains health information and economic data on the seafood industry, as well additional recipes.
The grocery chain saw its participation in the promotion as important to the market, as well as its own sales. "The seafood industry has been the backbone of the New England economy for many years, and continues to play an important part in our region's economic strength," said Chris Kukay, v.p. of meat and seafood procurement for Ahold USA, the parent company of Stop & Shop.
Laura Pierce, spokeswoman for the New England Seafood Producers Association, told Progressive Grocer that the in-store campaign would last six months, and that recipes would vary throughout that time "depending on what's going on in fisheries and what species are hot," as well to coincide with the upcoming holiday season.
According to Pierce, the original idea for the informational campaign was developed by the NESPA more than a year ago, with its trucks serving as "moving billboards" touting the healthful properties of seafood. In light of recommendations by the American Heart Association and the latest food pyramid that people eat seafood twice a week, Stop & Shop approached NESPA about bringing the campaign to the retailer's stores, as a way to get shoppers to consume more seafood. NESPA was happy to join forces with Stop & Shop, as its leading position in the New England market, as well as the fact that it's based in the region, made it an ideal partner to convey the organization's message.
Additionally, the association and the grocer wished to combat another barrier to seafood purchases: fear of seafood preparation. "There's a feeling that fish is difficult to cook," noted Pierce. "We want to show that it's a family-friendly food that's easier to prepare than chicken."
Although the Stop & Shop/NESPA partnership is exclusive, Pierce said she wouldn't rule out future promotions featuring the participation of other food retailers in the region.
Stop & Shop, New England's largest food retailer, employs over 58,000 associates and operates 365 stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey. NESPA is a nonprofit organization representing the interests of the region's shoreside seafood industry, encompassing processing, distribution, and sales.