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Guest Column: Information, please!

When you scan this bar code, you will be connected directly to Kwik’pak’s site, which includes a tab for a Trace Map that outlines the path the product traveled before finding its way to the checkout counter. These data matrix codes are becoming ubiquitous. Look in magazines and stores, and you’ll start to see them more and more. In Asia, consumers shop with their phones all the time, scanning these codes to get product information as they browse. It’s all pretty cool stuff and can go a long way toward reeling in the information-insatiable consumer. But, there’s also a more serious side to collecting and sharing information. Demonstrating sustainability of seafood is increasingly becoming a prerequisite to accessing markets. Being able to trace product to its source goes hand-in-hand with knowing how it was harvested – a key piece of information for claiming sustainability. Information is powerful. By collecting the right information and making it available, the seafood industry can capitalize on consumers’ preferences and demonstrate sustainability. As part of our Sustainable Seafood program, we work with our partners to explore opportunities to accomplish traceability. And, in the coming year, we plan to ramp up efforts to get stories out about fishermen and the Gulf of Maine seafood industry. So, I’ll look forward to continuing to connect with those of you in the fishing industry. After all, while online portals can create a greater appreciation and understanding to the average consumer, there’s nothing like good old fashioned conversation and camaraderie. Jen Levin is the Sustainable Seafood Program Manager at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

When you scan this bar code, you will be connected directly to Kwik’pak’s site, which includes a tab for a Trace Map that outlines the path the product traveled before finding its way to the checkout counter. These data matrix codes are becoming ubiquitous. Look in magazines and stores, and you’ll start to see them more and more. In Asia, consumers shop with their phones all the time, scanning these codes to get product information as they browse. It’s all pretty cool stuff and can go a long way toward reeling in the information-insatiable consumer. But, there’s also a more serious side to collecting and sharing information. Demonstrating sustainability of seafood is increasingly becoming a prerequisite to accessing markets. Being able to trace product to its source goes hand-in-hand with knowing how it was harvested – a key piece of information for claiming sustainability. Information is powerful. By collecting the right information and making it available, the seafood industry can capitalize on consumers’ preferences and demonstrate sustainability. As part of our Sustainable Seafood program, we work with our partners to explore opportunities to accomplish traceability. And, in the coming year, we plan to ramp up efforts to get stories out about fishermen and the Gulf of Maine seafood industry. So, I’ll look forward to continuing to connect with those of you in the fishing industry. After all, while online portals can create a greater appreciation and understanding to the average consumer, there’s nothing like good old fashioned conversation and camaraderie. Jen Levin is the Sustainable Seafood Program Manager at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

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