The growing buzz around the premium Ora King brand has helped the value of salmon exports to the USA double in just one year. With the value of the industry’s chilled whole product sales into the USA rising 100% in 2015 to reach $21.7million, the market has become the largest for NZ salmon exports. As a result, we’re seeing one third of all salmon export earnings coming from fresh, whole fish into the one market. It’s growth that the New Zealand King Salmon team attribute largely to the success of their Ora King strategy.
“There’s a real ground swell of interest in Ora King and when you see people loving the brand and the fish as much as we do, and taking our message and spreading it themselves, it’s very exciting,”said New Zealand King Salmon General Manager Marketing Jemma McCowan who has been a driving force behind ra King since its launch in late 2012. While the growth curve has been steep, it hasn’t happened over night.
“We decided about 10 years ago that America was a significant market opportunity for us because of its size, their appetite for sustainable seafood and a good appreciation for branding and quality,” she said. “This is evidence that staying committed and investing in a market for the long term can pay off.” With Ora King targeted towards individual, high-end food service outlets, chefs have emerged as key influencers.
“Ora King is not a direct substitution for the Atlantic salmon that’s widely available in the US,” she said.
“It’s about knowing the market and targeting the right customers. We’re at the high-end of food service so we’re working with chefs that appreciate ingredients and understand that King salmon offers a different experience.
“We put people on the ground who are qualified and know their stuff, to go into kitchens and talk to chefs and wholesalers and tell them our story. “It’s really about building long-term relationships across the supply chain.
“Now we’re seeing people getting excited about the brand story and their chance to get involved in a network.
“We’re getting natural pick up from chefs who are seeing their buddies using it, and we’re also getting our existing chefs moving restaurants and states and taking Ora King with them.
“When you see chefs owning your story – it’s very exciting.” Momentum has been building over the past three years with the Ora King awards, a US based sales team, social media campaigns and the green light from Monterey Bay all helping to build demand for the product.
“Certainly the brand message is getting out there,” she said. “We’re running a social media campaign to drive word of mouth – it’s a cost effective way of telling your story and the visual nature of the industry lends itself very well to the platform.
“We’ve also recognised that chefs interact with each other in social groups so we drove campaigns around the Ora King awards. “We also bring some chefs out to New Zealand – we select some of our champion users to tour our operations in the Top of the South to get a real impression of what we’re doing and meet the people working with our wonderful salmon throughout our integrated supply chain.
“The Monterey Bay green light has also had a positive contribution. “We’ve been driving it as a team and all the factors have combined to drive the market.”