Shoppers at any of 19 rural Northern California Holiday Quality Foods supermarkets will be the first consumers in the nation to get a taste of certified low-mercury content seafood marketed there under the new Safe Harbor brand. In partnership with Pacific Seafood, one of the nation’s largest fishing and seafood distribution companies, the supermarket chain is testing whether or not their customers will buy more fish if they can be sure the mercury content is low. Seafood sales have been dwindling in recent years across the country due, at least in part, to consumer concerns that high levels of mercury in fish can compromise human health.
In developing the Safe Harbor label, Pacific Seafood has pioneered a faster and cheaper way to test fish for mercury content at its processing facility. And while the testing process will add to the food’s production cost, Holiday Quality Foods is eating the expense in hopes they can make up for it in increased volume of sales to worry-free consumers. Other supermarket chains, including Albertson’s Bristol Farms stores, have expressed interest in carrying the low-mercury fish in other parts of the country if consumers seem interested.
“This is a way to regain the confidence of consumers who worry about seafood and mercury,” says Pacific Seafood’s Chuck Holman. “The technology is available, so we might as well use it.”