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North Central Regional
Aquaculture Center
In cooperation with USDA
North Central Regional
Aquaculture Center
Fact Sheet Series #110
USDA grant # 95-38500-1410
May 1999
Marketing Seafood to Restaurants in the
North Central Region
by J. Rosscup Riepe
Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
Need for Market Information
A marketing plan is an essential
part of a business plan. This is
especially true for products that
must be niche marketed. Niche
marketing involves time and effort
to develop and service markets. A
host of factors must be considered
including choosing a product line,
targeting a market segment, identi-
fying individual prospective buyers,
pricing products, estimating storage
requirements, evaluating alternative
production methods and schedules,
examining processing capabilities,
and planning promotional strate-
gies. Market information of various
types is needed. Consumer trends at
all levels need to be examined.
Market expectations and trends
within the targeted market segment
need to be explored. Competing
products need to be understood.
Accurate, reliable market informa-
tion is essential to devising a useful
marketing plan.
One of the largest markets for
seafood in the U.S. is restaurants.
Seafood Business reported that, in
1993, consumers spent about two-
thirds of their seafood dollars in
foodservice outlets (primarily
restaurants). Therefore, marketing
behavior and trends exhibited by
restaurants deserve close attention
from the aquaculture community.
Little is currently known about the
restaurant market for seafood in the
North Central Region (NCR). This
report is designed to fill the gap in
market information.
Description of Restaurants in
the North Central Region
A restaurant survey, using mail
questionnaires, was conducted in
the fall of 1996 and winter of 1997.
Questions were asked to determine
firms’ purchase/sales behavior
regarding fish/seafood in general
and yellow perch and walleye in
particular. (Details about the
restaurant survey including the
questionnaires used can be found in
Riepe 1998a or Riepe 1998b). Chain
restaurants were excluded from the
survey, as were restaurants that
serve primarily fast food or pizza. A
mailing list was obtained from a
private company. With chain
restaurants excluded, there were
65,571 NCR restaurants in this
firm’s database in June, 1996. A
representative sample (12%) was
chosen to receive survey mailings,
and 643 restaurants returned usable
surveys.
Seafood purchase behavior by a
restaurant may vary depending
upon firm characteristics (e.g.,
annual sales, geographic location,
formality, etc.). Some firm charac-
teristics seem to affect purchase
behavior while others do not.
Survey data on the characteristics of
the NCR restaurants are given
below.
Population Density of Location
Almost two-thirds of the respond-
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