By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, Food Marketing Institute

Fish. It’s a protein that remains a recommended source of nutrition under the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and it is a growing category for the grocery business. Citing Progressive Grocer’s 2015 Retail Seafood Report, “Nearly 60 percent of PG’s 2015 retail seafood survey executive panelists indicate sales gains for the 12 months ending November 2014, reflecting an overall sales gain of 4 percent, which is all the more impressive considering seafood is one of the average supermarket’s most shrink-challenged, labor-intensive fresh departments.”

Still, challenges remain when it comes to both consumer and store associate seafood knowledge and preparation in order to sustain the momentum at the retail level. As part of FMI’s ongoing efforts to develop tools and resources most needed by our industry to create shopper engagement strategies, the FMI Seafood Strategy Committee  created the FMI Seafood Calendar for the 2016-2017 calendar year, which is a solution for inspiring a more dynamic conversation each month around the importance of seafood.

Seafood Calendar CoverFood retailers are invited to use this original calendar, available online on the FMI Seafood webpage, aimed at promoting seafood consumption and knowledge among grocery associates and their customers. The calendar offers monthly themes to serve as the base for marketing and internal communications plans. We've included key messages and useful resources to help you plan your promotional campaigns. We’re also working to collaborate with seafood industry groups to help publicize the calendar in conjunction with their consumer-facing programs as food retailer resources. For example, the National Fisheries Institute just developed a program backed by dietitians and nutritionists called Dish on Fish, which helps to promote seafood consumption with healthful recipes.

As a lead up to National Family Meals Month™ in September and National Seafood Month in October, FMI encourages food retailers to engage store associates in the seafood department, supermarket chefs, merchandising executives, store-level health professionals and category buyers in a conversation about seafood.

The FMI Seafood Calendar will help drive awareness of the seafood counter and allow both customers and associates to help understand the benefits of eating seafood. This tool, when implemented by the retail food industry, provides a spotlight on this critical department in the store.