present commercial aquaculture operations. The premium product permits a
premium price which is necessary because of the anticipated production costs
associated with an emerging technology. Notice that the high quality position
is entirely analogous to that historically attained relative to wild products
in agriculture and livestock. Today's Thanksgiving turkey is a far cry from
its colonial forebears.
Necessary for a superior product at a premium price is a quality conscious
market segment. This suggests the restaurant trade as the prime customer group
in the initial years. Restaurants are essentially an industrial market and
relatively objective price-quality tradeoffs dominate decision making. Another
advantage lies in distribution. Direct distribution from grower to restaurant
is relatively easy. There is no reason why fish served at dinner should not
have been swimming that morning. Such quality control would be in happy contrast
to present fish distribution, which is remarkably bad. Sea foods, under improper
handling, can degrade very quickly (hours) relative to other types of foods.
Ten days from ocean to plate is altogether too common for "fresh" fish. Old
age in sea foods is clearly discernable to consumers who have tasted truly
A public information program stressing the twin gains of food production
and environmental improvement could be mounted. These issues are of general
interest and likely to gain media support. Parallels with other productive
use of valuable "wastes", or rather "resources", could be cited as examples of
man's turning problems into opportunities. The public health hazards of wild
fish and shellfish from coastal waters might possibly be discussed and compared
to that of the cultured products. Such an information program would be seeking
to establish in people's minds the fact that cultured products are safe before
the opposite point is raised. Since pressures to utilize "wastes" in food
production are increasing, some of the conditions necessary for changing nega-
tive attitudes are present. Techniques, such as have been used to change the
attitudes of soldiers towards new and unusual foods (Smith, 1961), might also
be employed on a larger scale with some chance of success.
Branded products to the consumer would be a later and more difficult
phase but one having great market potential. While some information exists
(Gillespie and Houston, 1974; Lewin, 1943) careful study of consumer perceptions
and values should be undertaken. Since clear labeling of the product is assumed,
government certification on the package would be sought to give the consumer
assurance of quality. Predictive pretests of product, package, and advertising
can greatly reduce commercial risk (Silk and Urban, 1976).
For consumer markets the premiiam position again seems best. Communications
copy could refer to restaurant use. Direct distribution to retailers would con-
trol freshness as far down the distribution system as possible. Advertising
themes would stress product uses, outstanding taste, freshness, and eating
Special opporunities for exploiting the potential of "waste" grown food
products fall to small and middle-sized firms. Large companies are likely to
be conservative, slow, and nervous about their visibility in case of unfavorable
reaction. A smaller firm can work with local people to solve problems, gain
distribution and build up good will by word-of -mouth.
Obviously the regulatory agencies play a critical role. They have the
power to preclude the application of promising aquaculture systems using "waste"
inputs. While it is not possible to predict their behavior under future cir-
cumstances, some generalizations can be made. If there are any substantial
unresolved public health questions or unknowns, regulatory approval is extremely
unlikely. However, if, through sound preparation and research, quality control
and public health safety are obtained and "known", approval in some form is
Several approaches to the market introduction of potentially objectionable
food products have been suggested. One is to avoid, at least initially, direct
human consumption and aim for uses lower in the scale of potential opposition.
This has the advantage of reducing the legal/political risks while building
experience and public confidence. Another approach is to aim for inclusion in
processed foods where the identity of the inputs are easily lost. Yet another
alternative is to attack the problem head on with a well organized marketing
program. This has apparently worked well with the introduction of irradiated
foods in Israel (Lapidot, 1973).
Aquatic foods currently on the market, produced with potentially objec-
tionable inputs, are not presently identifiable. However, the quantity of these
products as a fraction of the total market is small. It is questionable how
long this approach will continue to work. A better approach is to mount
coordinated marketing effort that introduces and builds acceptance of quality
products, first through restaurants then to consumers, while at the same time
publicizing the societal advantages of "waste" utilization.
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