AMERICAN seafood businesses are getting serious about the potential damage fish fraud can do to their industry.
And some are going to great lengths to try to combat the mislabelling menace - people such as Mark Murrell, the owner and founder of GetMaineLobster.com
He is worried about the scale of the problem which he believes could damage genuine businesses like his own and he now hopes his focus on educating the public about what they’re eating will raise awareness and combat the problem.
In 2010, Murrell founded GetMaineLobster.com, an online Maine seafood delivery service that specialises in live and cooked Maine lobster, which means he relies solely on building his operation through the Internet.
Since his business’s launch, sales have at least tripled annually and his company’s customer relations reputation has captured media attention and most recently a spot in the Chase Business Platinum national advertising campaign.
However, with the recent attention given to the rampant practice of mislabelling seafood directed to unsuspecting consumers, he believes it can “plant a seed” of distrust and possibly have an adverse impact on the seafood industry in general.
A recent report from the conservation group Oceana revealed that 31 per cent of seafood sold in restaurants and grocery stores in South Florida is something other than how it is represented on labels and menus.
Luckily, shellfish and lobster in particular is one of the few types of shellfish that it is very difficult to mislabel. But that hasn't prevented Mark Murrell taking action. While he fully supports the push to get the information about mislabeling seafood out to the American public, he is also looking for ways to reassure his customers that what they are buying from him on the Internet is the real thing.
He said: “It’s a challenge to make that human connection and build relationships when you’re shopping, selling, and making transactions on the Internet. Even though we’ve had a lot of success with it, I don’t want to lose traction. I want people to understand that rather than stop buying seafood they should get educated.”
He has now set out to educate. In fact he recently started to include tips on his Web site to help customers accurately identify the type of seafood they’re buying (http://getmainelobster.com/maine-lobster-facts/maine-lobster-history). Additionally, he is teaching the public ways to identify Maine lobsters and other seafood during chef’s table events he hosts throughout the country.
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