A delegation from China is scheduled to visit Kodiak Island in July. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute will host the group, which plans to tour fish processing plants in Kodiak and Larsen Bay.
The delegation will be in the United States from July 8-14, making stops in Seattle and Anchorage, but the majority of their visit will be spent on Kodiak Island because what they want to see first hand is the seafood.
“Boy, if we can catch it, they are interested in it,” said Jeremy Woodrow with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Woodrow explains that the group has shown interest in a wide array species.
“They’re interested in everything from Alaska cod and pollock to our crab species and our flatfish species such as yellowfin sole and rock sole and even arrowtooth flounder,” said Woodrow. “Of course, salmon and black cod are always popular, but they’re even interested in some of our dive species such like sea urchin and sea cucumber as well.”
ASMI is capitalizing on recent interest from China in wild Alaska seafood. The visit comes on the heels of Governor Bill Walker’s trade mission to China.
“There’s definitely a growing appetite for Alaska seafood products by Chinese consumers,” said Woodrow. “And so this is part of the governor’s efforts and the entire state’s efforts trying to drive our resources of the interest, the growing interest of the Chinese markets.”
Woodrow says the delegates hail from cities across the country.
“They come from all of the different parts of China: Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Qingdao and Qinzhou.”
The group will primarily be focused on visiting local processing facilities.
“They’re going to be touring the Trident [and] Ocean Beauty plants while in Kodiak. They’ll also spend a day flying out to Larsen Bay where they will tour the Icicle plant there, and they’ll also spend some time with a setnet group that is out in the Larsen Bay area while they are visiting the island,” said Woodrow.
China’s middle class has a tremendous desire for healthy foods, including wild fish and other seafood, explains Woodrow and the money to buy it.
“They have the fastest growing middle class in the world and so their buying power is starting to grow,” said Woodrow. “And that’s why we’re seeing more of our premium seafood staying in China. I think that most of your listeners know that we have a lot of seafood that goes to China for secondary processing and then its shipped to locations worldwide. But now that we’re seeing a growing market with stronger purchasing power for Chinese consumers, they’re finding that they have a desire for those premium products and Alaska is able to deliver those premium products.”
Nine Chinese delegates will make the trip. Most of them work in the seafood industry in China in areas from purchasing to development and media. The delegation will be in Kodiak July 9 -11.