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Free marketing service to help seafood businesses

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Oct 12,  2011

(MOBILE, Ala.) – The Alabama MarketMaker website will go live Oct. 14, offering Alabama fishermen, seafood processors, seafood distributors and farmers a free opportunity to connect with potential customers online. 

Alabama MarketMaker uses an interactive mapping system coupled with a searchable database to locate producers and businesses with local products for sale. It also helps pinpoint markets for specific agricultural and seafood products based on detailed census data.

Producers (farmers and fishermen) can participate in MarketMaker to enhance their profitability by providing detailed information about their products and businesses. Businesses can register for free at http://al.foodmarketmaker.com

“The idea of web-based marketing may be somewhat new to the fishing industry, but it has been around for years,” said Ralph Hode, fisheries disaster recovery coordinator for the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. “It stands to reason that the Marine Directors of the five Gulf states had great foresight in requesting that a portion of the post-oil disaster funds provided to us by Congress be used to advertise via the Internet.”

The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission awarded a grant that funds an Alabama MarketMaker outreach coordinator position.

Beth Walton, who is serving as the outreach coordinator and works through the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center, is available to answer questions and help seafood businesses input their information.

“I am looking forward to working closely with all sectors of the seafood and charter boat industries to help them develop their business profiles for Alabama MarketMaker,” Walton said. “We will be hosting training workshops so that folks will be familiar with how MarketMaker can help to increase their business.”

Walton’s position will help ensure that business owners are successful in joining the Alabama MarketMaker site.

“Having an individual like Beth dedicated to outreach means that seafood business owners and managers have the opportunity for one-on-one training and that, over time, they will have someone in whom they have confidence when they need help,” Hode said. “The appointment of Beth as the outreach coordinator for this program speaks well for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant group in that they believe in the program.”

MarketMaker is part of a national web portal, so the availability of Alabama products is made known to consumers all over the country. The site also allows businesses to connect with each other.

The MarketMaker site is one tool that may help the seafood industry, including fishing guides, connect with buyers during these hard economic times, Hode said.

For more information, contact Walton at 251-438-5690 or bethanyw@auburn.edu.

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