CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. teamed up this year with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and two other suppliers at a seafood event that attracted record crowds.
Kroger, joining local area restaurants at the Great Inland Seafood Festival for the third year in a row, was the only supermarket chain participating. The giant retailer made its presence known with banners and balloons at a booth staffed by volunteers who whipped up seafood entrees in a hurry at a grill.
"Like last year, we were showing people how quickly they can make a good meal with Alaska seafood on the grill, and we added a new selection this year. We had Alaska salmon teriyaki with confetti rice, shrimp scampi, and we added cod with roasted vegetables this year," said Melissa DiSalle, Midwest and Northeast marketing representative for ASMI, Juneau, Alaska.
Actually, the cod entree came in third in popularity.
"We offered it this year because we thought people who were watching their diets might want a choice with vegetables instead of rice, but I think when they're at a festival they're not thinking about diet. For the best-seller, it was a pretty much a tie between the Alaska salmon and the shrimp, and we had a line at the booth constantly," DiSalle said.
"I know we had more people than last year even though the festival was held in a different place. Kroger let people know where it was far enough in advance. I think we just had more publicity this year and the weather was good."
The other sponsors with ASMI and Kroger were Reynolds Metal Co. and McCormick. The seafood, seasoned with McCormick Golden Sauces, was steamed on the grill wrapped in heavy-duty Reynolds foil. The two-ounce entrees were sold for $3 or two for $5.
"We were giving out Kroger Plus balloons, too, and they were all over the place. You saw the Kroger name everywhere, and we told people they could get all the items at their Kroger store," DiSalle said.
She added that people were particularly impressed that they could make themselves a whole, healthy meal in 15 to 20 minutes on the grill.
DiSalle explained that the festival gives her a chance to tell consumers about Alaska seafood.
"For example a lot of people don't know that all Alaska salmon is wild salmon," she said, noting salmon farms are outlawed in Alaska. "Some had never tasted it before. They liked it."
Kroger began several weeks ahead of time to alert its customers to its participation in the festival. A notice in ad circulars pointed out that it would share a booth with ASMI, Reynolds and McCormick. Radio announcements and messages on its stores' public address systems invited people to visit the booth. So did signs in its seafood departments.
The Great Inland Seafood Festival is sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Restaurant Association and the Cincinnati Recreation Commission.