U.S. Shrimpers Ask Consumers to Go Wild

DALLAS The struggling U.S. shrimp industry is aiming for a revival through a $3.6 million advertising and public relations campaign designed to combat a glut of cheap imports.

The marketing effort by the newly created nonprofit Wild American Shrimp Inc. will include grocery store promotions, restaurant programs and other efforts, said representative Colleen Philbrick. The Hauser Group of Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., is handling the advertising and PR, Philbrick said.

Headquartered in suburban Charleston, S.C., WASI has a board of directors representing the shrimp industries in eight southern coastal states, from Texas to North Carolina.

Funding for the campaign comes from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The domestic shrimp industry has suffered extreme price pressures from shrimp raised in ponds in foreign countries. To combat the problem, the Bush administration has imposed tariffs on shrimp from Thailand, Brazil, Ecuador and India. U.S. shrimpers, however, said the tariffs are too low to discourage the cheap competition.

In hopes of raising consumer awareness about the difference in taste between domestic and imported, farm-raised shrimp, WASI created a new logo to distinguish shrimp caught in the ocean.

“Most Americans don’t realize that over 80 percent of shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported, and much of that is farm raised,” said Elaine Knight, president of WASI. “We’re here to let them know they have a choice.”

Philbrick said the print ads would appear in food magazines beginning this month.