Australia’s promotional body for seafood takes giant stride forward

Posted by James Ferre on 24th October 2008

Seafood Experience Australia (SEA), the national marketing body for seafood, made another step forward on Wednesday when it’s Seafood Promotion Act Reference Group (SPARG) and other industry representatives met in Adelaide and progressed discussions into finding a fair and equitable way to share the burden of seafood promotion, both domestically and internationally.

The meeting heard from the General Manager of Contracts & Services at DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), Steve Maxwell, who outlined what was required to meet the Government’s requirements – enabling the group to ask questions and get a clear picture of the road ahead to obtain the Seafood Promotion Act.

SEA was set-up in 2005 to promote the seafood industry as a whole, something that had not occurred in the industry in the same way as it is seen in the meat industry, for example. The promotional body is seeking to highlight the health benefits of seafood to Australians at a time when sales of seafood lag behind that of many alternatives, such as beef, chicken and lamb.

In his presentation to the meeting, the Chief Executive of SEA, Roy Palmer, highlighted that, whilst the industry had all the research it needed, it had done very little to address the slide of seafood sales in recent years.

“Australia ranks well behind other countries in per capita consumption, eating one third less seafood than the top five consuming countries. The links to health and wellbeing and consumption of seafood are now very clear and the industry has a great message to sell because Seafood is Australia’s way of life,” he said, quoting from the Retail Sale & Consumption of Seafood, 2006 (FRDC/Ruello).

SEA Chairman, Dr Ron Edwards, noted that the industry was beginning to realise that, by working together, it was much better served to take the healthy seafood message to consumers. “The seafood industry is fighting off the back foot being forced to justify why we actually want to put quality seafood on to the plates of consumers despite health professionals continually speaking of the health benefits of regular consumption of seafood,” he said. “The agreement we have today shows the maturity of the industry and a greater understanding that we need to work in a collaborative fashion to achieve what most other primary producer groups, even those much smaller than ourselves, already have – an industry driven promotional levy which enables them to plan marketing with confidence.”

“Clearly there is still a long way to go in this process and it is important that we must communicate widely and deeply in the industry to make this a reality, but there is nothing to fear in a system which has already worked for others and enables the industry to prepare an exciting and innovating plan.”

“We now have a new Board* which is going to add impetus on both the Seafood Promotion Act and membership and we have endorsed the work of our Chief Executive Officer, Roy Palmer, and are looking to gain more momentum which will ensure that the industry gets more on the front foot,” Dr Edwards concluded.