StarKist tuna's strategic growth plan includes spending more on U.S. TV advertising featuring its iconic mascot Charlie the Tuna, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In-Soo Cho, a veteran of global business for majors such as Procter & Gamble and Yum! Brands who became StarKist's CEO last year, said he believes that the mascot, and the brand as a whole, have not been fully leveraged.
The company will also be doing more marketing via events, such as the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon, where it will be distributing its tuna pouches. StarKist, which still sells 90% of its tuna in cans, is looking to increase sales of the pounches. Cho says many consumers are unaware of the pouches, but continue to buy them once they have tried them.
StarKist, which has improved the quality of its tuna, is also testing a frozen white fish product and will focus on more innovation -- a need in part driven by dwindling worldwide tuna. The catch dropped about 25% last year, sending prices up.
StarKist has a 36% to 37% share of the U.S. tuna market, but the Pittsburgh-headquartered company's $650 million in 2011 sales were flat with 2010's.
The bigger strategic picture calls for significant global expansion. South Korea's Dongwon Group, which acquired StarKist from Del Monte Foods for $359 million in 2008, entered the African/European marketplace last year by acquiring a tuna canning factory in Senegal, and is considered a likely bidder for a Spanish canned tuna company, Luis Calvo Sanz.
The StarKist parent company's overall strategy calls for eventually covering most of the world's oceans, the Gazette reports.