Alabama Gulf Seafood is caught along our Gulf coast and served in restaurants and markets throughout the state.
But it doesn’t stop at the state line.
That’s why we were proud to showcase our product on the national stage at the 2014 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show May 17-20 in Chicago, Ill.
Throughout the four-day event, restaurateurs and food processors from across the country gathered to connect and form valuable partnerships. Chris Blankenship, director of Alabama Marine Resources and program administrator for the ASMC, and Guy Lott, sales and support for the ASMC, were on hand for the duration of the event.
This was Alabama Gulf Seafood’s first year at the annual event, and with an engaging display as well as delicious samples of fresh-cooked brown shrimp and handmade crabcakes with fresh crabmeat, we made quite a splash in our NRA Show debut.
“I thought we were very successful for our first time at the show,” said Blankenship. “We had some very promising contact with companies that are opening restaurants or adding units in the Southeast, and right here in Alabama, that want to use our product.”
For the Alabama Gulf Seafood brand, being showcased on a national level like this wasn’t exactly informing restaurateurs of a brand new product—it was offering a viable resource for an in-demand product, one that fits squarely into the farm-to-table (or, in our case, Gulf-to-table) movement that is dominating the culinary market.
“Gulf shrimp have been hard to find in general over the last couple of years,” said Lott. “Customers that we hadn’t dealt with in the past were pretty eager to see if we could meet their needs.”
Consumers didn’t have to just take our word for it, though; they tasted the quality themselves.
Blankenship and Lott served up samples throughout the weekend at the Alabama Gulf Seafood booth. Having our product on display for all to enjoy played a big part in establishing valuable business connections throughout the weekend.
“A lot of people hadn’t seen that quality of shrimp like we were cooking,” said Lott. “We had a lot of people interested in fresh crabmeat and oysters as well.”
While the majority of our promotional events happen right here in Alabama, it’s important to go beyond our borders and connect with others from the food industry on a national level in order to expand the distribution of Alabama Gulf Seafood.
Even on the local level, there are several national restaurateurs who are expanding their offerings to Alabama that may not have come across our campaign otherwise.
“It’s amazing how many people we talked with in Chicago that are doing business in Alabama and want to expand their local offerings,” Blankenship said. “It just shows why our attendance is important. You have to be present and work hard to take advantage of opportunities.”