CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Star Market Co., based here, has been commended by Massachussets Governor William Weld for its participation in his Seafood Task Force's "Making a Splash" campaign.
and yellowtail flounder.
Since September, Star Market has been promoting local species such as mackerel, red hake, whiting and herring.
"We tried a couple of the items that were underutilized species, and the customers took to it -- it went really well," said Jeff Foster, seafood buyer for the chain.
"Then this month, for national seafood month, we ran about a quarter-page ad [in our circular], with the [campaign's] logo, and again we've had a really good response."
Recipe cards and in-store demonstrations have also been part of the promotion at Star, Foster said.
"In conjunction with the first ad [in September], we had set up demos with the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives where they cooked herring right there in the store, and also brought in some prepared product."
The only way to effectively support an initiative such as this is to give it as much exposure as possible, Foster said. "If you're going to promote it and really get the consumers interested, you have to have it in every store, you can't just say, 'Well, we'll try it in five stores and see how it goes.' We advertised it chainwide."
People are definitely asking more questions about species they are not familiar with, he said.
"We do get a lot of questions on how to prepare the fish, fillet it and cook it. As long as we educate customers and let them try it and not be afraid of it, it's going to be successful."
Other local chains have jumped on the bandwagon as well, according to Seafood Task Force spokeswoman Lee Regan Larkin.
"Crosby's is doing something similar -- just last week they ran a special on Cape Shark, chainwide in Massachussets, where they handed out Cape Shark recipe cards, and used our display signs," she said.
Like Star, Bread & Circus partnered with the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives, linking herring promotions to the campaign.
"The Gloucester Fishermen's Wives have a federal grant to promote herring, so they had funding to create herring recipes and buy product, but what they did not have was a marketing budget, so we worked together and put them in touch with our campaign partners," said Regan Larkin.
"They would go into a Bread & Circus store for maybe three hours at a time, demonstrate the product and talk to customers about it and the campaign.
"Meanwhile, Bread & Circus was packaging those [herring] dishes in dinner portions, and they sold out every time. They've been doing the demos there since the beginning of July, and they've done at least one a week."