Seafood Expo North America (SENA), the largest seafood trade show in the country, a three-day event which ends tomorrow. Approximately 20,000 people will attend this show, and it is primarily a business event, where many of the attendees are seeking to purchase significant quantities of seafood, or other seafood-related products.
I find this event to be fascinating, an excellent opportunity to learn more about seafood issues, as well as a chance to sample a diverse selection of seafood, raw and cooked, shellfish and fin fish. At the seminars I attend, and during discussions with exhibitors and attendees, one of the primary issues raised is how to get more consumers to eat seafood. According to USDA Dietary Guidelines, Americans should annually consume about 26 pounds of seafood, but in 2013, the average consumer ate only 14.5 pounds. And consumption has even decreased, down from 15.8 pounds in 2010. How do we reverse this pattern, and increase seafood consumption?
As I've pondered other possible solutions, one idea that has risen time and time again in my mind is to replicate a form of the Seafood Expo as a Public Expo, open to consumers rather than businesses. The primary mission of this public Seafood Expo would be to educate consumers about all types of seafood-related matters, to make these complicated issues more understandable for the average person without overwhelming them.
This public Seafood Expo could hold numerous short seminars providing educational information on seafood, on topics such as sustainability and the health benefits of seafood. Other seminars could provide cooking instructions for a variety of seafoods, helping to allay the fears of consumers who believe cooking seafood is too difficult. Consumers could also be taught how to shop for seafood, how to get the best buys, as we know many consumers believe seafood is too expensive. As negative media depictions of seafood outweigh positive reports by four to one, we need to find a way to counteract that negativity, and show the evidence supporting all the positive aspects ofseafood consumption.
There are many potential benefits to holding a public Seafood Expo, and it would help the seafood industry if we could convince people to eat more seafood. Creating such Expos would entail much time and effort but I'm sure there are entrepreneurs out there who could capitalize on this opportunity. Consumers need more seafood education and this Expo idea could help thousands of people, all at one time.
So let's see a public Seafood Expo! What do you think?