ASMI is trying to build on last year’s effort, which saw seafood exports jump 35 percent in value to $2.5 billion.
“We have a good product to sell and I think we’re doing a good job selling it,” said Jeff Stephan of Kodiak’s United Fishermen’s Marketing Association, after a meeting to ASMI’s international marketing committee in Anchorage in late June.
Stephan, who chairs ASMI’s international marketing committee, points to ASMI’s continuing effort to evaluate the customs, traditions, consumption behavior, eating preferences and other individual characteristics of some 17 countries in Europe and Asia, as well as Brazil, in South America, to tailor ASMI programs to meet the needs of these countries.
To that end, ASMI employs overseas marketing representatives in several countries, plus websites packed with information on everything from a seafood suppliers directory to recipes and a detailed explanation of its sustainability certification program, now administered by Ireland-based Global Trust. While Alaska’s constitution mandates sustainability in fisheries, ASMI is aware that many involved in the seafood industry need to be educated on the extensive criteria for getting certified through Global Trust. ASMI representatives are also meeting one-on-one with European buyers to explain the program.
Other big challenges Alaska seafood exports are facing in 2012 are the falling value of the Euro in Europe, which makes Alaska seafood more expensive, and a huge influx of low-priced Chilean farmed salmon into world markets. “It will be a big challenge for us,” said Ray Ruitta, executive director of ASMI.
Meanwhile, ASMI’s industry and trade website, at www.alaskaseafood.org, and the more consumer oriented www.wildalaskaflavor.com, are getting thousands of hits, and ASMI has developed templates for retailers to put some of this information onto their own websites, said Tyson Fick, ASMI’s communications director. Not to mention some 26,000 fans on Facebook. ASMI is also looking into mobile platforms to make its online resources more easily available to people using smartphones and tablets, Flick said.