Regional Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program Recipients
The Alaska Department
of Community and Economic Development and the University of Alaska/Kodiak
Fishery Industrial Technology Center received funding from the USDA-Cooperative
State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) in 2002
to begin a three-year mini-grant program to facilitate the regional
marketing of Alaska salmon. In February 2002, five applicants received
funds from the first grant cycle. In April 2003, six applicants
received funds from the second cycle. A third cycle will begin in
the winter of 2003/2004.
The Regional Salmon
Marketing Mini-Grant Program is designed for fishing organizations
or regional groups to develop programs for marketing salmon harvested
from a defined region of Alaska. Applicants are asked to coordinate
with other salmon organizations within the specified region to avoid
redundancy and encourage regional support. Funds may be used for
advertising, test product giveaways, marketing travel, label design,
consultation and other marketing activities. Among the criteria
for evaluating the applicants are: cooperation between groups within
the region, ability to produce high quality salmon, strategy for
regionally defining the area's salmon; and the quality and effectiveness
of the marketing plan.
Following are summaries
describing the achievements of the 2002 awardees and the goals of
the 2003 awardees. 2003
Regional Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program Information and Application.
Peninsula - Aleutians East Borough
East Borough received $54,500 from the program in 2002 to
market "Area M" salmon from around the Alaska Peninsula
and the eastern Aleutian Islands. A salmon marketing committee formed
early in the year and included community members, fishermen and
one processor; these committee members have since been in frequent
contact to discuss the progress and direction of the project. Aleutians
East Borough collaborated with several other local organizations
as well as the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and
intends to continue working with local processors and other interested
parties. The program's marketing plan distinguishes Area M salmon
from other salmon as "ocean-caught" in the wilds of the
Aleutians, harvested by local Aleut families and as the last Alaska
salmon of the season. The following goals were accomplished during
the first year of the program:
quality standards that surpass ASMI's grade A were instituted
and local processor Orca Bay began purchasing high quality sockeye
East developed the brand "Aleutia" for the region's
salmon and produced an award-winning logo.
Aleutia brand was advertised at the Boston Seafood Show and many
buyers showed interest.
handling workshops by Seafood Inspection Services and HACCP training
flyer and brochure were produced in early 2003.
After a successful
first year, Aleutians East Borough applied for regional marketing
funds under the 2003 Regional Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program
and received $20,000. With these funds, the program will continue
to promote the Aleutia brand by printing brochures, quality seals
and labels and meeting regularly. The Aleutia program will also
form a non-profit corporation to carry on the regional marketing
of the area's salmon independent of the Borough and AFDF.
Aleutians East Borough
reported the following observations:
and time consuming.[to] achieve consensus on "creative"
and "artistic" decisions, i.e. logo and product name.
What appeals to fishermen and community members is not necessarily
what appeals to consumers and therefore marketing professionals
should be consulted.
Buyers don't necessarily
want seafood that meets some constructed quality standards. They
know what they want in terms of quality and they are the best judges
of that quality. So while they appreciate efforts to properly care
for fish, their specs override any quality standards and make quality
- Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation
of six regional Community
Development Quota (CDQ) groups, the Bristol
Bay Economic Development Corporation used their 2002 grant
of $130,000 to begin building regional marketing efforts for Bristol
Bay salmon. An initial consultative group was formed in Bristol
Bay including BBEDC representatives and representatives from four
major area processors. Representing 17 villages around Bristol Bay,
BBEDC works to involve local fishermen at all levels of the program.
In addition to setting
apart Bristol Bay salmon, they encourage sub-regional marketing
efforts for particular runs of salmon, (i.e. Naknek River reds).
All local fishermen are allowed to take part in the marketing program
and to use the Bristol Bay regional trademarks and promotional materials
provided they adhere to rigorous quality standards which meet or
exceed ASMI's grade A. BBEDC accomplished the following goals with
their first year of grant funds:
were hired to develop a quality assurance program.
development consultants were hired.
materials were developed and printed for the program.
- A promotional
web site was
created and launched.
- The Bristol
Bay logo was advertised in Natural Products EXPO East show.
BBEDC received $90,000
from the 2003 Regional Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program. With
these funds, BBEDC will continue to develop and promote the Bristol
Bay wild salmon brand through advertising, point of sale returns,
quality assurance, test product giveaways and trade show follow-ups
with potential buyers.
BBEDC had the following
comments about regionally marketing seafood:
fishermen in the face-to-face marketing of their own salmon helps
them understand the market demands, helps the customers appreciate
the product better and builds the region's capacity for direct marketing
of seafood products.
The need to educate the market about the differences
between wild salmon from farmed salmon is critical to elevating
price. Through our presence at natural foods Trade Shows, we are
confirming the basic premise of this direct, regional marketing
effort: that buyers will pay more for the Authenticity of our Bristol
Bay Watershed story; high quality, wild salmon purchased as directly
as possible from resident harvesters of the Bristol Bay watershed
will overcome the market saturation of farmed salmon. We will now
see if we can translate this interest into increased returns to
our resident fishermen.”
- Cordova District Fishermen United
Cordova District Fishermen
United (CDFU) received $45,500 of funding in 2002 to support
their regional marketing efforts for Copper River salmon. CDFU capitalizes
on the natural qualities of Copper River salmon and markets them
as wild, strong fish full of rich oils for the 300 mile journey
up the clean, glacial Copper River. They also promote the sustainability
of the resource and the rugged Alaskans who harvest the fish. CDFU
completed the following goals during the first year of the program:
produced and printed promotional banners and point-of-sales material
for Copper River salmon.
- Program contact
list was updated and flyers sent to notify participants of new
- The Copper
River Salmon web site
was revised and updated.
- Outer Rim
Publications was contracted to write a business plan with an emphasis
on the eventual self-sufficiency of the program.
CDFU evaluated the
effectiveness of their promotions in 2002 and received numerous
requests for a video about the region's salmon for use in supermarkets
and other marketing venues. With $20,000 from the 2003 Regional
Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program, CDFU will produce a video loop
as well as continue to advertise and publish promotional material.
CDFU gave the following
insight into regionally marketing Copper River salmon:
"Being able to
meet the needs of all the various niche marketers of Copper River
salmon, as well as supporting the traditional users, is an important
part of effective promotional support. This will be accomplished
through increased diversification of materials and information available,
including materials specific for wait-staff, smaller retail markets
Norquest was awarded
$50,000 in 2002 to market Chignik area salmon. The program was meant
to emphasize quality handling for fishermen and processors with
all participants required to meet certain standards to be eligible
for marketing under the program. Funds were intended to create a
label and graphic designs and to search out promising niche markets
where wild salmon was already sold. Selling points specific to Chignik
salmon included a rationalized fishery and the picturesque community
with its unique location.
to assemble an advisory committee consisting of local fishermen,
interested community members and processors. Participating members
were meant to share their insight and lead the branding effort.
Due in part to the often contentious relationships between fishermen
and processors in the Chignik area, Norquest was unable to form
the advisory committee and gain the support of local producers.
It may be that an individual business, be it a harvester, processor
or other, is not the appropriate organization to lead this kind
of effort. Organizations that perform more economic development
functions may be the most appropriate manner of entity to facilitate
a regional marketing program. Norquest rescinded their request for
Peninsula – Kenai Peninsula Borough (Cook Inlet
With funding from
several sources, including $120,000 from the 2002 Regional Salmon
Marketing Mini-Grant Program, the Kenai
Peninsula Borough embarked on a multi-year program to market
Cook Inlet sockeye salmon. Participating fishermen and processors
must adhere to strict quality standards including mandatory icing,
chilling, bleeding, handling procedures and grading. This program
made the following progress during its first year:
the brand name "Kenai Wild" along with a logo and
subheads and printed 5000 labels.
an illustrated fact sheet and printed 5000 copies.
- Sent out
400 pounds of branded product to potential customers.
- Began training
two locals in quality inspection.
contacts and prepared labeled product for mid-winter promotions.
The Kenai Peninsula
Borough also hopes to influence salmon management in the area
in order to spread out the fishery and increase salmon quality
and service. The branding project will focus on the unique aspects
of the local salmon and salmon industry for promotion to high-end
Kenai Peninsula Borough
discovered in the first year of their program that early winter
advertising was difficult, as around the holiday season many
buyers were too busy promoting seasonal specials to discuss new
promotions. They did find a strong positive attitude toward wild
salmon, however, and pointed out that all participating buyers
emphasized the positive aspects of wild salmon without disparaging
farmed salmon. They are contemplating instituting quality control
beyond the processing plant, as much otherwise acceptable product
was rejected due to poor workmanship.
Kenai Wild program is now managed by Cook
Inlet Salmon Brand, Inc.
Kodiak -- Kodiak
Chamber of Commerce
The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce received
$130,000 under the 2003 Regional Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program
to brand and market Kodiak pink and chum salmon. They established
the Kodiak Brand and Marketing Committee (KBMC) to lead the effort.
The KBMC's quality program will include
training for fishermen, tenders and processors, creation of quality
standards and the certification at least 20,000 lbs. of product
in the first year. This program focuses on pink salmon fillets and
will conduct product research to determine consumer preferences
for packaging, format, pin-boning and other variables. With this
information, the KBMC hopes that at least two retail chains will
buy product regularly. Funds will also be used to create a brand,
logo, labels, brochures, fact sheet and other promotional materials.
KBMC hopes to become a stand-alone organization in the future to
lead the regional marketing of all Kodiak's salmon.
Bay -- Coastal Villages Region Fund
of six regional Community
Development Quota (CDQ) groups, Coastal Villages Region
Fund received $120,000 from the 2003 Regional Salmon Marketing
Mini-Grant Program to market Kuskokwim Bay salmon. In 2002, Coastal
Villages developed the Kuskokwim Bay/Coastal Villages brand and
logo and established relationships with Wildcatch and Indian
Valley Meats to co-brand their fish. Wildcatch was attracted
to Kuskokwim product in part because the low volume fishery and
mandatory slush ice for all harvesters has a high potential for
producing quality fish. Wildcatch caters to the natural/organic
foods market by partnering with major natural foods retailers.
Coastal Villages and Wildcatch are also considering partnering
to produce innovative products such as salmon baby food.
Indian Valley Meats is an established
value-added processor in Alaska and brings to the partnership
training for processors, experience producing value-added products
and a market for the Kuskokwim's lower value chum salmon. Salmon
jerky, sticks and burgers are currently co-branded and more products
are being developed. Coastal Villages intends to use their grant
funds to attend trade shows, establish distributorships with
natural food retailers, advertise, produce promotional material,
meet with potential European buyers, earn the Alaska Manufacturers
Association's "Alaska Quality Seal," bring buyers to
the region and develop packaging for new Indian Valley Meats
River -- Wrangell Community Salmon
With $20,000 from the 2003 Regional
Salmon Marketing Mini-Grant Program, the Wrangell Community Salmon
Marketing Association intends to develop a marketing business plan
for Stikine River salmon. Quality specification will be developed,
fishermen and industry leaders surveyed for input, target markets
identified, a logo developed and a plan formulated for the production
of labels and promotional materials.
Promotion of the region's salmon will
complement community projects designed to increase the quantity
and diversity of local salmon products, including the construction
of a value-added processing facility/cold storage. The committee
will draw upon its unique fishing history, dating back to Native
fishermen, to create a regional identity for its product. Recognizing
the need for high quality salmon, the program will include strong
quality control and grading procedures.