Delta Pride Catfish is sporting a redesigned logo to help consumers better identify the products produced by this farm-owned cooperative.

Company shareholder Larry Brown is hoping the company's new “U.S. farm-raised” slogan will also convince more consumers to buy American, providing the support catfish growers hope will turn the current depressed market prices upward.

Brown, a partner in Dyche Plantation in Sunflower, Miss., says, “We're just trying to be more progressive. We're trying to show people that Delta Pride is here, we're a growing company and we change with the times.”

To better project that image of progressiveness, Brown says, Delta Pride's modernized logo featuring a golden-colored catfish will appear with photographs of prepared catfish dishes in print advertisements, product sales literature, and product packaging. The golden catfish, the company says, symbolizes its commitment to delivering a premium product to consumers.

Perhaps most prominent in the new logo is the addition of the descriptive, “U.S.” to the “farm-raised catfish” slogan on the company's logo.

“We felt this was essential in light of the recent controversies involving the importing of Vietnamese fish into our markets,” says company CEO Bill Allen. “Our logo on the package guarantees retailers and consumers that they are buying premium catfish raised in the United States.”

While the addition of “U.S.” to the company logo was done at least partly in response to the encroachment of Vietnamese fish in the domestic catfish market, Brown says it was also added to promote U.S.-produced products.

“What we wanted to do was show that we have an American product that's home-grown. As a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans are more aware than ever before of their patriotism, and consumers would rather buy American-made products,” Brown says. “By advertising our product as U.S.-made, we're showing a sign of our patriotism, as catfish producers and as a company.”

Convincing consumers to buy U.S. farm-raised catfish is critical to the success of the American catfish industry, according to Brown. “We're in bad shape right now, and it's going to take an improved economy to turn the industry around,” he says.

“The catfish economy is very depressed, and there's not a lot of optimism for that to change anytime soon,” he says. “The per pound price offered to producers for catfish at most production plants is currently hovering around 58 cents. I know the break-even for most producers is around 65 cents per pound. If the price stays where it is right now it will be devastating to the catfish industry.”

Brown attributes the current market slump to the economy, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and Vietnamese fish imports. “Those are the three biggest reasons for the low catfish prices, but an improved economy is our best bet to turn the catfish industry around.”

The historically “normal” per pound price for catfish is in the mid-70s. To make matters worse, many producers fear that any product shortage which would typically bring the price of catfish back up will instead open the door for more imports.

In a normal supply-and-demand cycle, catfish farmers often decrease production by reducing feeding in times of extremely low prices. That way, somewhere down the line the fish supply gets short and the glut goes away, raising catfish prices. The Vietnamese fish imports, however, are changing that scenario.

In conjunction with the debut of the company's new look, Delta Pride recently launched its redesigned Website at www.deltapride.com.

Allen adds, “Delta Pride was a pioneer in the U.S. farm-raised catfish industry when it began operations more than 20 years ago and built one of the best names in the business. We were overdue to update our identity, and thought now is the perfect time to move forward with the new Delta Pride.”

Based in Indianola, Miss., Delta Pride is owned by 115 catfish-farming shareholders who together farm more than 60,000 acres of catfish production ponds and produce more than 200 million pounds of catfish each year.


e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com.