In the age of "social distancing," seafood has taken a particular shine to social media to get the word out about the good, bad and sometimes ugly news.
In an industry historically poor at communicating, seafood companies have found new and creative ways to reach out to customers, suppliers, colleagues and government.
Calls for support
Seafood wholesalers and foodservice suppliers have been the first to feel the hit, and some of these companies operate on such small margins that it doesn't take long for them face financial pressures they simply can't survive.
That's where outreach to customers and suppliers has become one way to remind an overwhelmed public to support small businesses.
Nicholas Lynch (also known as Nick's Fish), a seafood producer and wholesaler in Ireland, asked its followers on Twitter to support local fishmongers, showing empty bins.
Canadian Minister of Fisheries Bernadette Jordan extended her plea to residents to patronize local eateries in Nova Scotia.
Some UK shops have described not a fall off in foot traffic, but a mob, and are pleading with customers for calm.
Over the past weekend several people on Twitter commented on health concerns raised by UK residents forming long lines to eat at fish and chips shops and inadvertently spreading the virus. The issue even forced one popular eatery to close its doors temporarily.
Others have highlighted the problems their customers are facing, particularly US restaurants. New Jersey based distributor Eastern Fish noted the difficulties restaurants have felt with several US states barring dine-in service over the past week.
Gabe Watkins, director of communications for US trout giant Riverence, noted social media has been a vital resource during the pandemic, particularly the company's Instagram account.
"Yesterday, I saw posts from multiple friends and restaurateurs who are closing their business for good, or unsure of the future," he told IntraFish Friday.
"My heart broke for them, and I was able to check in on our friends and customers immediately, and make sure they’re well cared for. Of course, on the public posting side, social media is more effective than email when it comes to spreading the message that our employees are healthy, our raceways are full and our trucks are reliably delivering."
Can takeout save seafood?
Unlike in the United Kingdom where major chains such as McDonald's are temporarily shutting down all forms of service, the United States so far has embraced takeout as a way to keep foodservice on life support while not offering dine-in options.
The idea to keep-on-keeping-on via takeout at US restaurants has been the battle cry of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) in response to the pandemic.
Beaver Street Fisheries recently endorsed an upcoming day devoted to promoting "American takeout."
Gulf of Maine Sashimi, a wholesale seafood dealer out of Portland, Maine, touted recently it has upped its takeout abilities as one way to support local fishermen, promoting new ways for individuals to order fresh seafood in addition to restaurants.
Selling out, dining in
US restaurant and wholesaler Samuels Seafood has also looked at options beyond dine-in. It noted on Twitter it was sold out as of last week of its "Family Seafood Packs" it is offering as "curbside pickup seafood," a move thousands of restaurants around the globe have embraced.
Keeping on track
Mowi, the world's largest salmon producer, still launched its newest product in retail giant Amazon.com's fresh food delivery division, a product the company planned to roll out with a massive social media support campaign.
The March 14 launch was supposed to be timed with the now-postponed Seafood Expo North America. The group is moving forward with its social media strategy despite the coronavirus disruption.
A time for domestic to shine
With global supply chains disrupted or outright broken, some companies see an opportunity to plug the gap with domestic supply.
US land-based seabass producer Ideal Fish, for example, weighed in on LinkedIn to remind customers it has been created to help address "national food security" challenges.
The company noted it is available "should your supply of imported Branzino be interrupted."
This was also the strategy for New York-based Hudson Valley Fisheries (HVF), which not only markets its steelhead trout as a premium product that it says is more sustainable and better for you than farm-raised salmon, it is also working to commercially sell hemp as part of a larger aquaponics system.
Keeping customers and employees informed
Pacific Seafood stated it's prepared for restrictions on mobility even within US states, and announced coronavirus contingency plans recently on LinkedIn.
"In the event of a government quarantine or other shelter-in-place order, Pacific Seafood can continue operations because we are a designated national critical infrastructure food supply company," the company said.
“Due to our vertically integrated supply chain and geographically dispersed locations, we are in a unique position to solve this critical need," added Pacific Seafood CEO Frank Dulcich in a statement sent to IntraFish after the company posted its plan on social media.
"We have already begun flexing our production capabilities, leveraging our availability of frozen inventory, and relying on the strength of our logistics operations and innovative packaging capabilities to rapidly meet customer needs in this unprecedented time."
Companies such as Cooke Aquaculture, meanwhile, have been posting on LinkedIn to simply thank employees who are not able to work from home and are maintaining the company's farm sites and processing plants.
"Cooke is actively monitoring the situation and we have a business continuity plan in place to ensure minimal interruption to the regular conduct of business," Cooke Spokesman Joel Richardson told IntraFish.
Mowi Canada West has similarly been using LinkedIn as well as Twitter to communicate thanks to employees who are working outside of their homes, and also to convey safety measures and messages.
"The nice thing about social media is it's flexible," Mowi Canada West Communications Manager Chris Read told IntraFish.
"If we see we're missing an opportunity, or there's a risk of us getting something wrong, we can change quickly. It is a key link with how we talk to our local communities and our employees and their families."
Other companies, such as Atlantic Sapphire, have been using the opportunity to reassure customers about projects proceeding as planned.
Atlantic Sapphire CEO Johan Andreassen let Twitter followers know recently "construction and production in our Miami Bluehouse is going on without any severe interruptions due to the virus."
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