Simplicity needed in seafood markets

Seafood retailers should keep their message simple, speakers in St. Andrews said Wednesday.

Many grocery shoppers on the way home from work do not stop when they grab something from the fish counter, Steve Lutz, executive vice-president of Nielsen Perishables Group, a Chicago marketing and consulting group, said in the opening session at the 2012 Seafood Forum: Perspectives on Sustainability.

"They made a selection from the meat section and the shopping cart didn't stop," he said at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre.

This allows little time to scan labels on certification for environmental stewardship and sustainability, David Smith from Mississauga, Ont., vice-president of sustainability for Sobeys Inc., agreed.

"I don't like the term 'sustainability.' Nothing is sustainable. It is the carrot on the stick and you never get there," Smith said. "To say you are sustainable today, I think is misplaced. It's a journey."

In Europe, fishing outfits change their method of capture in response to consumer pressure, Johan Verreth from Wageningen University, Netherlands, said. These consumers in turn pay a premium, he said.

Not so in North America, Lutz said. "Consumers today are not willing to pay more for sustainability," he said. "It is my belief that sustainability should have a price premium."

The people who most often buy seafood might know more about these issues but do not buy enough to support the industry.

Shoppers might not even have a choice in fresh seafood, Lutz said. "I get to buy the one salmon he puts on his shelf," he said, turning to Smith from Sobeys.

"As a shopper, if I can trust Sobeys, my job as a shopper is easy," Lutz said.

Consumer confusion covers farmed versus wild fish, the speakers said. This brings the issue home to Charlotte County.

Members of the Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association attended the session, as did staff from the Fundy North Fishermen's Association and Grand Manan Fishermen's Association. They share the bay, sometimes uneasily.

Each has issues related to sustainability.

"Each of these issues has to be taken on its own merits," Verreth said following the morning session.

"These are incredibly complex issues," Lutz said.

"The message we want out is that we put out the best seafood in the world," Andrew Lively of True North Salmon, Cooke Aquaculture's marketing division, said in an interview. By "we" he meant both fish farmers and traditional fisheries.

"Their buyers are our buyers," said Alan Craig of True North.

The program this week includes a "Lobster and Salmon Academy" where chefs learn where these delicacies come from and how to cook them.

Fresh salmon - the new superfast food for multi-tasking moms

Fresh salmon is the answer for time pressed moms and can help address the growing obesity issue in children, says Holly Clegg, recognized author, chef and working mother. "Working moms are facing huge challenges getting healthy food quickly on the table for their families," says Clegg. "We know that fresh salmon itself can multi-task: it's a super health food, it's fast, and you can make more than one meal at once."

Fast does not necessarily mean bad, however. "Fresh salmon from Maine and Atlantic Canada is one way to attack the myth that fast means unhealthy," she explains. "It's high in protein and it contains key vitamins and minerals, so you know it's a great food to serve your family. And with very little planning you can cook one meal and make three more out of it, minimizing mom's time in the kitchen."

Clegg adds that salmon is a natural source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which recent studies have shown to be critical for vision and improved brain development in infants. Pregnant women, nursing moms, as well as developing children, will benefit from salmon's "brain food" qualities.

Clegg, known as the "Queen of Quick" and author of a best-selling cookbook series, takes every opportunity to show moms, who are often in charge of meal planning and preparation, how to boost their families' menu with what she called the new "super fast food." Her recipes are simple to prepare and use everyday ingredients. Using a basic salmon recipe for one meal, Clegg shows moms that by cooking extra they can prepare three other unique and delicious recipes like salmon salad, bisque and sliders.

Clegg is eager to help as child obesity rates continue to rise. With parents working more hours, it leaves them with less time to shop for healthy food options and to prepare healthy meals. Time-pressed families are relying more on fast food and packaged food, which tend to be high in fat and calories, just to get food on the table quickly, she says.

"Working moms are under so much pressure from so many sources - if we can provide them with ways to juggle all those demands and know they are keeping their family healthy, then hopefully we're taking some of that pressure off," says Clegg.

"The great thing about fresh salmon is how easy it is to get it fresh," she adds. "If you buy salmon from Maine and Atlantic Canada you know it was literally swimming just a couple of days earlier, and that's hard to beat."

When it's smoked salmon, it's delicious salmon

Smoking is one of the oldest ways to preserve fish, used long before refrigeration. And while smoked salmon has been a standard as an appetizer in entertaining for decades, it has come a long way from its traditional roots. Today smoked salmon is making its way into a variety of diverse and tasty dishes from salads to chowders, meaning that cream cheese wraps are just one of many options available to an inspired cook. Along with offering a twist to appetizer planning, smoked salmon from True North maintains health and quality standards so that you can feel great about serving it to your friends and family.

True North's salmon offers quality that you will taste straight away, regardless of how you prepare it. Their salmon contains no nitrates - no chemical additives or artificial preservatives, making it a healthy choice. The smoked salmon is hand-crafted and cold-smoked Atlantic salmon which has a firm velvety texture and translucent pink color.

True North controls the supply of all of its fish - it harvests its own Atlantic salmon from the Gulf of Maine, ensuring the highest standards of quality. The fish live in a natural environment giving it a natural flavour and then it's smoked in the company's own facility using a combination of classic European smoking methods and the best of today's technology. This ensures that the smoked salmon comes from the freshest and healthiest of fish.

Smoked salmon is becoming a hit in a variety of new and exciting meals including salads, pasta, chowders, and pizza. Entertain with it too, from a romantic salmon tartare for two, to a hot smoked salmon dip that will feed the masses at your next gathering. This is a versatile ingredient ready to star in many dishes. Smoked salmon soup warms things up on chilly winter nights, while smoked salmon and dill mini quiches can be made ahead of your next party and warmed up to offer the perfect easy appetizer.

Author of the popular trim&TERRIFIC cookbook series, Holly Clegg recommends trying her Smoked Salmon Tortilla Pinwheels. "This recipe is a make-ahead with an outstanding presentation. Just arrange these pinwheels cut-side up on a serving platter," says Clegg.

Smoked Salmon, Snap Peas, and Pasta is another of Clegg's recipes that puts a new twist on smoked salmon. She says that smoked salmon is not only fun to cook with but offers other benefits as well. "Here's a terrific tidbit," says Clegg, "smoked salmon is a rich source of protein, vitamin A, and omega-3 oils."