As the world’s leading supplier of surf clams, ocean quahogs, and mackerel, New Jersey’s commercial fishermen have been supplying the world’s finest seafood for over 300 years. The variety of New Jersey seafood is impressive: clams, sea scallops, blue crabs, squid, monkfish, tuna, and flounder, and many others. In 2004, over 187 million pounds of seafood valued at $145.7 million was landed in New Jersey’s six thriving ports. In 2004, Cape May was the nation’s fifth largest port landing $68.1 million dollars of seafood. With annual retail, import and export sales in excess of $2 billion, New Jersey Seafood is important to our state’s economy.
The state also has 182 aquatic farms including 106 hard clam farms, 43 oyster farms and 15 finfish farms producing trout, koi, hybrid striped bass, sport fish species, and tilapia. Four other aquatic farms produce a variety of aquatic plants destined for ornamental ponds and remediation projects. According to USDA 2005 Census of Aquaculture, the number of acres devoted to saltwater aquaculture in New Jersey has risen from 1,402 in 1998 to 4,466 in 2005.
New Jersey is located in one of the nation’s largest, and culturally diverse, upscale consumer seafood markets. But stiff competition from other states, and from around the world, is resulting in lower prices and lost markets. To combat this trend, the Department is working closely with industry to help consumers better understand the quality and availability of local seafood.
The Department has initiated programs to brand locally harvested seafood and to develop value-added seafood products to meet the needs of today’s consumers. The Jersey Seafood branding program allows consumers to identify local seafood while also meeting new country of origin label requirements. Through promotional materials, point of sale advertising, an enhanced website, and work with strategic partners, awareness is expanding for the Jersey Seafood brand name. With 70 percent of seafood consumed in restaurants, the Jersey Seafood brand promotion is also heavily targeted at chefs and restaurateurs who are the opinion leaders in the industry.
Coastal tourism contributes $15 billion annually to our state’s economy. Restaurants play a key role in a successful tourism industry in New Jersey. Recognizing this, our program identified strategic partnerships and a comprehensive promotional plan to support the positive branding of the New Jersey Shore along with Jersey Seafood.
3. SEAFOOD STRATEGIES
3.1 Promote the “Jersey Seafood” Brand
27) STRATEGY-Help establish a more consistent year-round demand for Jersey Seafood products through the strategic scheduling of promotional activities.
28) STRATEGY- Continue to promote locally grown and harvested products as distinct from, and of higher value, than competing products by strengthening the Jersey Seafood brand.
29) STRATEGY – In order to develop a high quality brand image for New Jersey Seafood, as well as maintain a safe and high quality supply of Jersey Seafood products, develop standards for wild harvest seafood using the Jersey Seafood brand. The new standards will supplement the current standards for farm-raised seafood.
30) STRATEGY- The department’s seafood marketing programs will continue to promote locally grown and harvested fish and shellfish as an integral part of a healthier, more active lifestyle especially for young consumers.
31) STRATEGY - The department will continue to support the branding of Jersey Seafood through our Jersey Seafood Website as well as point of sale materials developed and distributed to Jersey Seafood retailers, community markets, restaurateurs, chefs, and directly to the general public at festivals and events.
3.2 Developing Restaurant Promotions & Branding
32) STRATEGY- The department will continue to establish promotional relationships with professional culinary organizations such as the New Jersey Restaurant Association, Professional Chefs’ Associations, and Slow Foods Organizations of New Jersey. The newly updated Jersey Seafood Suppliers Directory and promotion of the Jersey Seafood website electronic directory will help to link buyers and sellers.
33) STRATEGY –Continue to identify strategic partnerships to support the positive branding of the New Jersey Shore and Jersey Seafood. Work to align with Jersey Shore branding strategies and the promotional opportunities of the Casino Redevelopment Authority (CRDA), NJ Travel & Tourism/Department of Commerce and targeted seafood festivals and events.
3.3 Facilitating Retail Promotion & Sale of Jersey Seafood
34) STRATEGY- Increase consumer awareness and promotion of locally harvested and farmed seafood emphasizing sustainability and eco-friendliness through variety of channels including foodservice (chefs, restaurateurs, corporate feeding programs), media outlets, non-governmental organizations and retailers. Increased awareness and appreciation will increase demand for local seafood and drive sales.
35) STRATEGY- Roll out a coordinated Jersey Seafood marketing/promotion program directed at retail, foodservice and special events such as the Breeders’ Cup. To kick off the program, major retail buyers/media representatives will be invited to an industry tour, tasting and education program to help gain familiarity with the local harvest especially the efforts of the industry to develop sustainable and eco-friendly fisheries.
36) STRATEGY- As part of the promotional campaign a wholesale market report will be distributed to chefs, restaurateurs, retailers and other interested parties to provide current information about the availability of locally harvested and grown seafood.
3.4 Supporting Direct Marketing Opportunities
37) STRATEGY-Identify new market opportunities and expand existing markets for Jersey Seafood and value-added Jersey Seafood products through greater participation at community/farm markets and other new venues such as the internet. A database of farm markets has been helpful to identify the best venues for seafood sales. Initial efforts will be to expand seafood sales in those identified markets. USDA funding will be sought to help in the expansion of farm market sales.
3.5 Development of a Branded Value-Added Seafood Products
38) STRATEGY – Through the USDA Value Added Grant Program, a comprehensive business plan has been developed by the New Jersey Seafood Marketing Group (NJSMG). The focus of the plan is a premium, packaged, branded product for retail sale. The business plan will form the basis for a Phase II proposal that would allow the NJSMG to develop more effective and cost-efficient packing strategies. To more effectively meet consumer needs, the group also plans to seek funding to develop a microwaveable product. A similar prototype product was trial tested during the series of consumer focus groups convened to develop the branding specifications.
3.6 Export of New Jersey Seafood Products
39) STRATEGY – In partnership with USDA and Food Export USA Northeast programs for 2007, identify and promote the development of export marketing opportunities for New Jersey’s seafood products.
3.7 Grow a New Generation of Seafood Consumers
40) STARTEGY-Studies by the scientific community continue to point to the importance of increasing the amount of seafood in the American diet. To educate future consumers about the importance of seafood and the production of sustainable and eco-friendly seafood, an exhibit on clam aquaculture is being developed in conjunction with the State Museum of Agriculture, a children’s activity book has been developed, and participation at festivals and educational events is planned.
3.8 Provide Health Certification to Allow Interstate Transport of Live Fish
41) STRATEGY- Working closely with the Division of Animal Health, a testing/certification program will be developed to allow the transport and sale of New Jersey live farm-raised fish to markets in other states.