Members of the House Fisheries Special Committee heard from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, an organization that promotes the state’s seafood. ASMI’s executive director, Jeremy Woodrow, told legislators on Thursday the latest trend is showing off Alaska’s sustainability so they launched a new marketing campaign called, “Make the Wild Choice.”
ASMI has had to be creative as the Alaska seafood industry faces several challenges. According to Woodrow, 70% of seafood sales were from restaurants before the pandemic.
“Restaurants are changing – not all the restaurants that were there before the pandemic have come back, and they’re also shrinking their menus as well,” he said in the presentation.
The international market has also changed, according to Woodrow. Russia and the U.S. have banned imports of each other’s seafood – Russia banned
U.S. seafood in 2014, and the Biden administration banned Russian seafood just last year, and relations with China are now tense because of the trade war. ASMI is instead looking into other emerging markets to fill the gap.
“We are working on growing in Southeast Asia, expanding South America, working on Eastern Europe, and exploring Africa,” he said.
Inflation has made it difficult for even domestic buyers to afford Alaskan products, but Woodrow says he’s hopeful and claims sustainable fisheries are the future for the seafood industry, and that Alaska is in a perfect position to grow markets.
Woodrow spoke with legislators for about an hour on Thursday. His presentation also touched on Alaskan seafood diversity, the investments other countries are making in their respective markets, and ASMI’s educational programs. The next House Fisheries Special Committee meeting is February 14.