Four Alaska seafood industry leaders are contenders for top awards at the biennial industry conference for Global Food Alaska, coming up June 8 at Soldotna.
Semi-finalists for the manufacturer/processor award, given to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in the processing or manufacturing of Alaska foods, beverages or bio products, include Scott Blake of Copper River Seafoods and John Lowrance of Leader Creek Fisheries. Jim Harmon, executive director of SeaShare, a seafood donation program, and Dennis “Skip” Winfree, president of 10th and M Seafoods are contenders for the Alaska Champion award, for playing a significant role in putting Alaska foods, beverage or bio products into the local, national or international marketplace.
Fish processors have figured prominently in past competition for creating a successful business through commitment, dedication, hard work, ingenuity and innovation while meeting Alaska’s challenges of remoteness, geography, weather, technical know how, limited population base and infrastructure.
Blake partnered with three fishermen in 1996 to establish Copper River Seafoods. Blake’s leadership over the past 15 years as led to the success of the firm, which now has operations in Cordova, Anchorage, Togiak and Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.
Lowrance led a major paradigm shift in how wild salmon is harvested and processed in Bristol Bay. Leader Creek has since developed premium market channels in Europe and the US, with a nearly flawless, consistent wild product and a vested fleet now benefiting from a profit sharing plan. Leader Creek’s techniques have helped raise grounds prices in Bristol Bay from 40 cents in 2001 to over $1.30 a pound in 2010.
Under Harmon’s leadership, SeaShare has donated more than 150 million meals. SeaShare is a seafood donation program that solicits and collects seafood from Alaska and Pacific Northwest harvesting and processing industries to distribute through established food bank channels to hungry Americans, including Alaskans.
Winfree purchased 10th and M Seafoods in Anchorage in 1980 and went on to change Alaska’s supply chain by influencing FedEx to develop a new method of transporting seafood from Alaska. His company today is one of the largest direct-to-consumer shippers of seafood in Alaska – to European, Japanese and domestic markets.