The contracting of Ketchum Worldwide for […] SalmonChile sends a threatening signal to social movements, NGOs and indigenous communities fighting against environmental, sanitary and social destruction, instigated by the expansion of these transnational mega industries operating in Chile.
Santiago, Chile, 28th of February, 2019 (Ecoceanos News). James Griffin, executive director of Chilean Salmon Marketing Council (CSMC), announced to the news site SalmonExpert, the launch of a public relations mega campaign in United States digital and printed media.
The campaign will include the development and publication of striking announcements and articles aimed at sea product commercializers, retailers, food service companies and for use with international events and fairs of the food industry. Its objective is to strengthen the internal communications of Chile based salmon companies and the global food industry.
The United States constitutes the main market for exports of farmed Chilean salmon, receiving 30% of the annual production. It is estimated that the annual consumption of Chilean salmon in North America amounts to 140,000 tonne – equivalent of 3 million portions each day.
As such, the current communication strategy of the CSMC is to boost the announcement from the National Service of Fishery and Aquaculture of Chile (Sernapesca) that the use of antibiotics in Chilean salmon aquaculture diminished by 18% from 2017, only reaching 322,7 tonne in 2018, assuming that “the United States market will respond well to these news”. It is however important to remember that the Chilean salmon industry still is the one using the most antimicrobials in the world.
The majority of farmed salmon exports from Chile to the United States are conducted by intermediate companies, which in turn commercialize them to the end user through retailers or food services. Another objective of the CSMC this year is therefore to emphasize the “Denominación de origen” – a Spanish system for protecting foodstuffs by regulating quality and origin – since most retailers and food service companies in the US are unfamiliar with Chile, with an “even deeper” lack of knowledge among chefs, according to Griffin of which “many are unable to localize Chile on a map”.
The CSMC is a marketing, communications and PR organization created by salmon exporters in 2017. Its objective is to promote the image of Chilean salmon, open and expand markets, push for certifications and develop market knowledge.
Ricardo García, president of the CSMC, and Arturo Clément, president of SalmonChile, will be the ones coordinating the strategy of «educating interested parties in the US». In his text on SalmonExpert Griffin says that «Chile has a history of sharing with influential people in the US». To do this, the executive director of the CSMC announced to contract Ketchum Worldwide – a global lobbying and crisis management firm, delivering strategic communication services to states and transnational companies of foods, GMO agriculture, technology and private health.
Ketchum Worldwide has already begun working with the CSMC, developing an integrating strategy of marketing and PR based on the brand «Salmón de Chile». It will later go on to establishing a digital platform for social media and web.
Ketchum Worldwide has previously been involved in managing the crisis after the disappearance of the flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines (2014), and the major security breach crisis of the US health insurance company Anthem (2015). Multiple contracts have also been made with the US Army, the IRS and the United States departments of Education and Health & Human Services. Moreover, it gave consultations to the Russian government after having received more than 60 million USD from the Kremlin for its communication and crisis management work of the years 2006-2014. And finally, it is also worth mentioning the lending of management crisis services to the government of Honduras – accused of multimillionaire scandals and corruption frauds – in order to help it attract new international investment.
Juan Carlos Cárdenas, veterinary physician and executive director of Centro Ecocéanos stated that «The contracting of Ketchum Worldwide for […] SalmonChile sends a threatening signal to social movements, NGOs and indigenous communities fighting against environmental, sanitary and social destruction, instigated by the expansion of these transnational mega industries operating in Chile».
Ketchum has been a key actor in the PR strategy to diminish the increasing demand for and production of organic food, described as extreme and too expensive for consumers.
In 2013, the transnational company Monsanto contracted Omnicon Group Inc. – owner of Ketchum Inc. – to «remodel» its reputation in the middle of a forceful public campaign by citizen organizations, local communities and consumers, about rejecting genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
According to The Holmes Report – a site dedicated to providing information from the PR industry – Ketchum works closely connected to the agrochemical industry in its PR efforts to promote genetically modified food and crops, to end the labeling of GMO products, to minimize worries about the use of pesticides and to counteract and convince consumers that organic foods are the same as conventional foods. Ketchum manages the web site GMO Answers, financed by Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF.
Complaints of the company began to surge in as early as the late 1990s when it was revealed that Ketchum Worldwide had been caught up in espionage on non-profit citizen organizations opposing GMOs.
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