Alaska Glacier Seafood delivers for the holidays
Meal kits and home delivery packs have quickly evolved from quirky concepts created to coax busy Millennials back into the kitchen to viable, broadly-embraced ways of life and shopping. If meal kits and home deliverables are the future, then the latest consumer trends and preferences seem to loudly proclaim that “The future is now.”
A recent Harris Poll surveying over 2,000 U.S.-based adults found that one in four participants had purchased a meal kit-type product in 2016, and that 70 percent of those consumers planned to actively do so again. And the meal kit format may be especially potent for the seafood industry – according to the survey, two-thirds (66 percent) of active meal kit purchasers said they eat seafood more often when buying meal kits.
A big factor playing into the success and appeal of meal kits and home-delivered packs has been the convenience that they offer modern consumers, who are looking to save time with meal preparation at every turn, the Harris Poll discovered. Offerings in this sector not only cut down on travel time and in-store navigation – they can also take out the guess work that tends to come with approaching the seafood counter and choosing a species, a fact that Juneau, Alaska-based company Alaska Glacier Seafood has capitalized on with its Alaska Home Pack.
The family-owned company has opted for the kind of doorstep presence made popular by meal kit companies such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh with the monthly-delivered Alaska Home Pack, which contains a variety of seafood species sourced directly from the docks of Juneau. Among the seafood sourced year-round from Alaska fishermen for the pack include king, sockeye and coho salmon, as well as halibut, cod, rockfish, black cod, scallops, tanner crab, Dungeness crab, prawns and shrimp, and salmon caviar (roe).
“Whatever we buy on the dock for commercial sales, a portion of that gets put into our Home Pack inventory,” said Mike Erickson, owner of Alaska Home Pack and Alaska Glacier Seafoods, of the company’s process. “Therefore, our Home Pack is a different mix of seafood each month.”
Each monthly delivery tends to include four to six different seafood products, totaling seven to 12 pounds, which reflect “the rhythm of the natural harvest and buying cycles,” explained Erickson. “Shipments typically include a mix of fish fillets and shellfish, all individually frozen and vacuum-sealed, as well as some of our special value-added products. All species are clearly labeled and packed in their own smaller box, which fits easily in your freezer,” he said.
“We like to offer a seasonal mix, depending on what fisheries are open and what fishermen are bringing in,” Erickson added. “That’s really in keeping with the spirit of the brand, in that fisherman often will keep a portion of their own catch to take home and share with friends and family.”
As the holidays near, the Alaska Home Pack features species that customers are looking for during their various celebrations, as well as the catch known for the corresponding seasonal cycle.
“People really love the crab and scallops during the holiday season. We offer boxes of just king crab, and that has been wildly popular over the holidays,” said Erickson.
Value-added products are also a big “consideration” and sell year-round, said Erickson, with halibut bits, halibut burger, salmon dip and salmon burger a success among the pack’s consumers. “Our customers now have a convenient, healthy and delicious protein to feed their families, and it allows us to fully utilize each fish.”
For December 2016, the company included tanner crab (bairdi crab), wild halibut fillets, its value-added smoked salmon dip, wild coho salmon burger and wild weathervane scallops within its Alaska Home Pack shipment, which could be ordered up until 20 December for customers to receive it in time for the Christmas holiday. The boxes were shipped out using FedEx Next-Day Air.
Keeping a pulse on both consumer demand and fisheries’ supply is necessary to sustain the “dock to doorstep” business model championed by companies like Alaska Glacier Seafoods. By shipping catch directly to consumers, the company is also afforded the opportunity to share lesser-known fish and shellfish that maybe wouldn’t be chosen at the fish counter, alongside the popular species and value-added products in high demand, according to Erickson.
“Heading into summer we’ll find customers looking for salmon,” said Erickson. “In the fall, we’ll see more coho, and we also try to introduce folks to species they may not be as familiar with, things like cod and rockfish.”
Consumers are always looking for reassurances with their seafood, noted Erickson, and being able to offer wild, Alaska-sourced products in a direct, convenient way seems to resonate with the market.
“These fishermen are like family to us,” he said. “We saw this [Alaska Home Pack] as an opportunity to get their seafood directly into the hands of the customer. Everyone wins. And putting up a home pack, or filling your freezer with a portion of the catch, is something every fisherman does. By extending that offering to customers all over the country, they get to access that same high quality product as it comes in. And it’s a great way to support these fishing families who make their living from the sea.”
“That’s another huge consideration with seafood; people want high quality product from a source they know and trust. By following the fish all the way ‘from dock to doorstep,’ people are reassured that their product is coming directly from us. It’s something we are really proud of,” Erickson concluded.
Customers can purchase a subscription plan for every month (USD 199, EUR 177), every two months (USD 199, EUR 177), or every three months (USD 225, EUR 200) through the Alaska Glacier Seafoods website, which also provides recipe suggestions for each shipment.