Encouraging German Chefs to Use American Lobster on Their Menus

This article is an interview with Food Export - Northeast In-Market Representative Alexander Wever about his recommendations for effective seafood marketing in Germany and other Northern European countries.

With the goal of getting American lobster on more German restaurant menus by promoting the benefits of processed product forms, Alexander Wever, Northern Europe Seafood In-Market Representative for Food Export–Northeast, came up with the idea to create a cookbook featuring interesting ways to inspire local chefs.  We interviewed Alexander about his innovative marketing tactic, tips for promotion of Northeast US seafood, and the trends he sees emerging in Northern Europe. Read on to learn about Alexander’s recommendations for effective seafood marketing in Germany and other Northern European countries.

Alexander Wever IMRQ: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been in your role as an In-Market Representative for Food Export–Northeast? What is your seafood background?

A: I’ve been working in the seafood industry since 1996. After over 24 years in the industry honing my knowledge of seafood species and trade, I now own a seafood consulting company called AWF (Alexander Wever Fish Consulting) and work as an In-Market Representative for Food Export–Northeast. I’ve been with the Food Export team since 2015.

Q: What US seafood products are most demand in Northern Europe? What seafood are you trying to promote most?

A: In general, United States seafood is very popular in Northern Europe. For Northeast US seafood, I promote popular species such as scallops and dogfish – these are the most important seafoods in Germany. I am working on promoting American lobster and monkfish more often and hope to expand interest in oysters in the future.

Q: What seafood trends do you see emerging in your region?

A: In my region, we’ve seen significant interest emerge in convenience options (e.g., fillets and ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat seafood), as well as snacks instead of full meals (e.g., sushi, poké, sashimi, and fish rolls). One thing I always keep in mind when promoting seafood is that animal welfare issues and sustainability has become a primary focus for Germans – they care about where their seafood comes from and that it’s sustainably caught/processed.

Q: What is the inspiration behind your lobster cookbook?

A: In Germany and in some other Northern European countries, the import, stocking, and selling of live lobster gets more and more complicated due to animal welfare concerns. Many restaurants have removed their live lobster displays, and, at the same time, white table restaurants are switching to more casual food service formats that don´t use lobster products. The lobster cookbook is designed to provide inspiration for chefs of “modern restaurants” who want to incorporate American lobster into their dishes.

Q: Why focus on lobster and not on other Northeast US seafood products?

A: I’ve been focusing on promoting American lobster more, but a scallop cookbook is also in the works.  

Q: What do you hope to accomplish by creating and distributing this cookbook?

A: I would love to see more young people eating lobster rolls and trying lobster products in fancy restaurants or seafood bars. If these restaurant meals are made from processed American lobster products, I’ll feel like my cookbook will have made a difference.

Q: Who did you work with to create the lobster recipes?

A: I worked with a variety of people and sourced ideas from different resources. I researched recipes on the internet, worked with the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, dabbled with recipes from my own experience as a hobby chef, and garnered ideas from recent travels to Maine and Massachusetts.

Q: How will the cookbook be distributed/used? How many copies were produced? Please detail your plan for chef marketing outreach.

A: I plan to produce 2,000 copies. I will send the cookbooks directly to identified restaurants and provide copies to American Lobster wholesalers that supply to Northern European restaurants all over the region. I’m also toying with the idea of hosting some presentations in selected cities when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Q: What other innovative strategies are you implementing to effectively market Northeast US seafood?

A: I have a few things in mind for the next year – I plan to host meetings with importers and wholesalers, create relationships with the Foreign Agricultural Service in different countries across my region, and incorporate Northeast US seafood into the Berlin Food Week city menus.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for suppliers wanting to stand out in your region?

A: Meet and visit importers and wholesalers, hold a stock of frozen product in Europe, try to find chefs as ambassadors in different countries, and lobby to promote a free trade agreement between US and European Union. All of these things will help facilitate interest and relationships with European buyers.

For more information about how Food Export–Northeast In-Market Representatives can help you promote your products, please visit www.foodexport.org.

About Food Export USA – Northeast

With its extensive programs and educational offerings, Food Export USA–Northeast (Food Export–Northeast) is recognized as the preeminent expert and cost-effective resource for Northeast seafood and agricultural suppliers looking to sell their products overseas. Founded in 1973, Food Export–Northeast is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively with its 10 member states’ agricultural promotion agencies from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, to facilitate trade between suppliers and worldwide importers and to promote the export of food, agricultural and seafood products from those states. Since its founding, the organization has helped Northeast seafood suppliers gain access to a broad range of export markets, supported overseas in-market educational and promotional programs and offers emerging suppliers access to funds to help grow their export business. The organization is funded through the Market Access Program (MAP), administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Learn more about us and what we do for the Northeast seafood industry here.  Contact us.