SEATTLE, Wash.— Consumers long thought to have been put off by terminology used by surimi seafood products in the U.S. market may be able to put those fears to rest after research indicated that consumers are not put off by ‘imitation’ labels and see information about surimi seafood’s origin—Wild Alaska Pollock—as a huge bonus, the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) announced today. Consumers also appreciate surimi seafood products for their ease of use, versatility and value, as described in the first report of a series of landmark research projects undertaken by GAPP to understand what drives demand for surimi seafood.
“This research puts the exclamation point on the notion that there is an incredible opportunity for Wild Alaska Pollock surimi seafood to tell its story loud and proud,” said Craig Morris, GAPP CEO. “Consumers interviewed demonstrated an incredibly favorable impression of the products and, excitingly, the research unequivocally shows that learning that surimi seafood is made with Wild Alaska Pollock seems to improve the already favorable impressions these consumers have about surimi.”
C+R Research, a full-service custom consumer research firm, through its multicultural division CultureBeat, conducted a qualitative study with a diverse group of U.S. consumers to explore their perceptions of surimi this fall as part of an on-going effort by GAPP to better understand the global demand for surimi seafood and help members better market their products.
The study looked at different U.S. demographics and cultures including Black/African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Jewish and Non-Hispanic Whites who shared their experiences and thoughts on surimi through a multi-day online message board. Through this exercise, participants also shared recipes exemplifying the different ways in which surimi is prepared and consumed in their homes.
Preliminary results indicate that Asian-American and Hispanic consumers cite more frequent consumption of surimi and a stronger alignment with their respective traditional cuisines. Specifically, Asian-Americans readily acknowledge a link between Asian cultures and the consumption of fish and surimi, citing various uses in traditional dishes such as crab cakes, soups and ‘hot pot’ recipes. By contrast, Hispanics’ connection with surimi is more pragmatic. They acknowledge its consumption as a functional ingredient in recipes they enjoy, largely dominated by Ceviches.
“While Asian and Hispanic consumers view surimi as inherent to their cultural traditions, Black, Jewish and Caucasian respondents have no such cultural ties to the products and come to the category organically,” explained Morris. “Whether in a salad, soup, ceviche or as a complement or substitute in a seafood preparation, surimi is appreciated for its versatility. Surimi’s ease of use along with its perceived affordability also have the favor of consumers across these groups.”
Survey respondents were asked to provide a recipe that demonstrates a common usage for the surimi seafood products in their households. Recipes included more common staples such as pasta salads and ‘crab’ macaroni and cheese as well as novel uses including BBQ-flavored “pulled surimi” sandwiches. Consumers use surimi in a variety of different recipes, either passed down through family, by online research, or simply trial & error. Once considered or tried, the research found that surimi is not seen as intimidating to consumers to cook at home as is often the case with other seafood.
This study is the qualitative component of a two-part research project that will also include quantitative research to be conducted later this year into early 2021. Results of both studies will be utilized by GAPP to inform partnership funding round requests and messaging ‘toolkits’ to be utilized by the entire industry. Similar research is also being conducted by GAPP in the important export market of Japan. For a full copy of the report please email Craig Morris at Craig.Morris@alaskapollock.org.