Former Red Lobster procurement chief joins Wild Alaskan Company
Former Red Lobster executive Jennifer Keith has taken over as director of procurement for the fast-growing Wild Alaskan Company, one of the country’s largest online seafood retailers.
Keith’s transition from foodservice to online retail takes places as Red Lobster struggles with big losses and looming debt amidst coronavirus shutdowns. Meanwhile Wild Alaskan – founded three years ago by third-generation Alaska fisherman and software engineer Arron Kallenberg – has racked up more than 100,000 members across 50 states and is among the country’s quickest growing direct-to-consumer brands.
Keith told SeafoodSource recently that although Wild Alaskan had momentum prior to arrival of COVID-19, the market conditions caused by the virus have led even swifter growth in the company.
“Because of our business model – high-quality seafood delivered directly to the consumers’ door – we were doing really well and growing very quickly prior to COVID. With COVID, our model has enabled our consumers to be in their homes and not have to go out to restaurants, or even go to the grocery store if they don’t want to. They can order the product online and have it delivered to their door. It’s so simple and easy,” Keith told SeafoodSource.
Sweeping shutdowns in foodservice have freed up more high-quality seafood for retailers like Wild Alaskan, according to Keith, who served as director of procurement for Red Lobster and has over 15 years of experience buying seafood.
“This has just really impacted the foodservice industry. People aren’t able to get out and get the exceptional seafood they’ve had in the past from white tablecloth restaurants and other restaurants. But they have the opportunity to have that same product, directly from Alaska and to their doorstep,” Keith said.
To make their customers more comfortable preparing seafood that they might normally order at a restaurant, Wild Alaskan provides recipes alongside individually wrapped portions of wild-caught Alaska seafood that are quick and easy to cook.
“We buy product caught in Alaska, and most of it is processed into an IVP pack up in Alaska and then brought down. We cut it into six-ounce or eight-ounce portions for our members,” Keith said.
The company offers salmon boxes that have sockeye and coho and whitefish boxes with cod, halibut, pollock, and rockfish. Members can mix the boxes and add items like spot prawns, weathervane scallops, or ground sockeye.
Photo courtesy of Wild Alaskan Company