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Seafood Tags

Jason Baker | June 13, 2012

My work has offered me the opportunity to travel around the world as I attend trade exhibitions or visit clients. Our company sells grocery store point of purchase signage so I inevitably end up in a grocery store looking at the signage searching for ideas or trying to find one of the signs I had a hand in producing.

I was in England once and came across a tag our company had sold to a US company who bought Scottish farmed salmon and sold it under their brand name. Two things struck me that day. One I was really a little too excited to find a tag I had a hand in selling. My euphoria was completely lost on my wife’s grandmother who had dragged me to the market to carry home the groceries. The second thing was no matter where you are in the world the seafood counter is the most intimidating spot in the grocery store.

I think it stems to my Ontario roots. Although we can lay claim to a Great Lake and our plant is built in a town on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, seafood is not a part of our heritage as it would be on one of Canada’s three coasts. As such my knowledge of seafood has been limited to the main stream, (no pun intended). So when I walk into a seafood shop I can’t be relied upon to spot the difference between Halibut and Tilapia, Farm Striped Bass from Vietnam and wild caught Sea Bass from Spain. Who outside of the experts can? All I know about crab I learned from the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch show.

So it always concerns me when I am shopping for the right type of seafood for my dinner table. I rarely know how best to prepare it and I always feel bad holding up the line to ask for some advice. So what happens? I always gravitate to seafood that’s tagged. As a novice seafood shopper I like the fact somebody cared enough to put a label, a gill tag, or an in-ice sign with the product. That tells me the country of origin, what it is and how it was caught. It’s a traceability system that seems to shorted the divide between the fishermen and the plate. Some of the great companies even put cooking or preparation tips on these signs as well. For me it takes the guesswork out of the whole thing. I love sounding like an expert at the dinner party rhyming off the information I read from the seafood tag before they arrived.

Just think about it. Every other product in the store has been identified so if it’s important for the other companies why would a seafood supplier not think it was important to brand their product. I find I am brand loyal now too, rewarding the companies who tell me who they are as opposed to the no-name selections beside them. I can’t be the only person intimidated by the seafood display. At the end of the day I always travel the path well lit. I can be adventurous – just not with my seafood.  

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