People shop with their eyes and when it comes to crab, shells that are discolored or scarred or covered with barnacles can be a turn off.
In the Bering Sea fisheries, ugly shells can comprise up to 30 percent of a catch at certain times of year and crab molting cycles. While the crabs are every bit as tasty as prettier product, they fetch lower prices for fishermen.
“The industry has traditionally called them Number 2 crab or dirty crab, a lot of times these are older crab or might have different coloration from the sediments of the ocean bottom of their habitat.”
Jeremy Woodrow is communications director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. ASMI responded to the industry’s call to try and get more value by promoting ugly crab in a new way.
“Educating retail and food service professionals once you get inside the shell it’s no different and a lot of times these ugly crab are older and have greater meat fill so there is actually better value to food service or retail operator to purchase these #2 crab which often come at a lower price.”
The ugly crab campaign is modeled after similar food enhancement programs underway by farmers that aim to reduce food waste and improve sustainability practices.
“Consumers are becoming more educated and definitely more thoughtful about where their food comes from whether its’ produce or proteins. And this dovetails right into that same mindset that it’s ok that your food might look a little different, it’s all about how it tastes and what it does for you as a person.”
The Get Ugly campaign was launched last March at the big Seafood Expo North America in Boston
Boston to good reviews.
“We see this as a long term effort that will bring value back to the industry.”
Woodrow says it’s an educational process for buyers and for crabbers as well.
“And part of it is also educating the industry to transition their phrasing from calling them number 2’s or dirty crab and instead calling them ugly crab, so we can get this consistent messaging across the industry that piggybacks on the ugly produce movement and it becomes a familiar phrase for these purchasing decision makers.”
ASMI’s annual All Hands meeting is set for October 29-31 at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage. The public is invited to attend.