ASMI hires Stephen Gerike, with plan to grow Alaska seafood’s reach in US foodservice
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) recently hired Stephen Gerike as its new United States foodservice national accounts representative. Jann Dickerson previously held the position, but she recently left ASMI to pursue other opportunities, according to the organization.
Gerike, a former executive chef and a 25-year veteran of the food industry, will lead efforts to partner with foodservice operators to reach seafood “super-consumers” in the foodservice channel, ASMI said in a press release.
In an interview with SeafoodSource, Gerike revealed how he can help increase the recognition of Alaska seafood in the foodservice industry.
SeafoodSource: What is your previous experience in the food industry and restaurant business?
Gerike: Before joining ASMI, I held the position of AVP Channel Marketing for the Pork Checkoff, overseeing domestic marketing strategies and tactics for both foodservice and retail grocery. Most of my 18 years with the Pork Checkoff was spent in commercial, non-commercial, and independent foodservice marketing and innovation. Prior to the Pork Checkoff program, I worked in brand marketing for Sysco corporation in Houston, Texas, and was an ACF-Certified Executive Chef in both hotel and resort kitchens in the Northeast U.S.
SeafoodSource: How will your contacts at national restaurant chains benefit the Alaska Seafood brand?
Gerike: I have worked with the top 400 commercial restaurant chains during the past 15 years and understand the market and the changes that are happening so quickly. We’re working on a targeted account list of both high volume and emerging commercial restaurant chains to focus on during fiscal year 2019 (July 2018 through June 2019).
Our goal is to help the industry create value for all Alaska seafood species by working with high-volume chains as well as partnering with growth chains that are concerned about sourcing wild, natural, and sustainable seafood for their menus.
SeafoodSource: How do you plan to increase the visibility and usage of Alaska seafood among U.S. restaurant chains?
Gerike: Our goal is to share the great opportunity that wild, natural, and sustainable seafood and the Alaska seafood brand can provide operators and their customers.
According to a recent report from Technomic, two groups of super-consumers account for the majority of domestic seafood spending and represent the greatest opportunity for Alaska Seafood as a target audience. Psychographic segmentation reveals two groups of consumers, Optimizers and Originators, which account for 55 percent of domestic seafood consumer spend. Both groups are strong consumers of seafood but have different motivations and behaviors. We plan to partner with chains that that provide the best opportunity to reach these customers.
Building some new and exciting partnerships in the national account area, recruiting chefs from around the country to create a fresh culinary advisory group, and updating our culinary school curriculum are a few of the goals we’re setting for ourselves. We’re hitting the ground running.
SeafoodSource: How does your experience benefit Alaska seafood and the U.S. seafood industry?
Gerike: During my career in foodservice marketing, I have continued to develop my culinary skills, staying involved in the evolution of food culture and trends. I’ve been a guest chef at the James Beard House for the past two years, and have deep relationships with the nation’s leading and emerging chefs. I have worked on menu and recipe development for independent and chain restaurants as well as national food festivals. It has been critical for me to understand all competitive proteins: beef, poultry, lamb, and seafood. And I have interacted with ASMI both as a competitor and as a partner at trade association events and shows for more than a decade.
SeafoodSource: Are you looking forward to starting the job?
Gerike: Working for Alaska seafood is an opportunity that I have considered for many years. The opportunity presented itself this spring and I’m very excited to be joining the team and representing such a strong brand in foodservice.