Exclusive: Orca Bay launches poke kits, shrimp line
Fresh off its merger with Odyssey Foods, Orca Bay is expanding into new seafood territory.
While Orca Bay has primarily offered Alaska salmon products, the Renton, Washington-based firm just rolled out frozen ahi tuna poke kits and a line of frozen raw shrimp for retail.
“This is just part of a series of new and exciting things coming out of Orca Bay,” Bo Maisano, product development manager for Orca Bay, told SeafoodSource. “We are trying to branch out and find other ways to sell seafood, and get ourselves into different avenues and different stores.”
Soon after Odyssey and Orca Bay’s merger, Terry Downs, the COO of Sealaska, which owns Odyssey, told SeafoodSource that merging the two suppliers’ marketing and value-added processing businesses will result in greater efficiencies and economies of scale and enhance the product mix available to customers.
Among those new products are the poke kits and shrimp line, which mark a departure from Orca Bay’s frozen salmon, tilapia, and other frozen fish fillet offerings.
But the company is known for innovation – particularly utilizing Alaska seafood. It has been recognized in the Alaska Symphony of Seafood competition for many years, including winning second and third place in the foodservice category in 2016 for its Pacific Cod with Smokehouse BBQ Flavor and Keta Salmon with Maple Bourbon Rub.
In 2017, Orca Bay’s Albondigas (Mexican Seafood Soup) took home third place in the foodservice category in the Alaska Symphony of Seafood competition, and its Jjamppong (Korean Seafood Noodle Soup) placed second in the retail category.
In its latest novel product launch, Orca Bay has latched on to the soaring poke tuna trend, which started in restaurants and has now expanded to retail. The supplier began testing the poke in 62 Cash & Carry convenience stores a few months ago.
“We wanted to develop a poke product before the trend even took off. As it continued to gain popularity, it solidified our decision to button down our product and get it on the shelves,” said Lilani Estacio, head of marketing and communications at Orca Bay.
The 10-ounce poke kits, which are packaged with a soy and sesame marinade, retail for a suggested USD 6.95 (EUR 5.87) each.
The ahi tuna, processed in Vietnam, is sourced from handline vessels in the Western Pacific, a fishery recognized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program as a "Best Choice" for wild-caught seafood, Estacio said.
Every shipment of the carbon monoxide (CO)-treated tuna is tested for E. Coli, hepatitis A, salmonella, listeria, and more, and “anything that does not meet these requirements is rejected by our Quality Assurance department,” Estacio said.
In another first for Orca Bay, its frozen, raw farmed shrimp line is being marketed to retailers nationwide. Prices on the products, which include Easy Peel/ Deveined, Peeled/ Tail On/ Deveined, and Peeled/ Tail Off/ Deveined, range from USD 6.95 (EUR 5.87) to USD 8.95 (EUR 7.56) per two-pound bag.
“Shrimp has topped the list of most consumed seafood for some time,” Estacio said. “We were just waiting for the right supplier and time to roll it out.”
While Estacio declined to list the shrimp supplier’s name, it’s an Indian company with a Best Aquaculture Practices 4-star certification, she said.
“[Orca Bay is] proud to be sourcing from one of the finest producers in India,” she said.
Maisano praised the shrimp’s flavor.
“I am happy to use and eat a really good farmed product that has a great flavor,” he said.