Top 25: Seafood Product Innovation

SS-IMG-2019-09-23-Top25-AlaskanLeader-NL.jpgAlaskan Leader Seafoods  |  Fish and Chips Meal Kit

Beginner’s luck has nothing to do with Seattle, Washington-based Alaskan Leader Seafoods’ big wins in 2017 at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood competition, an annual contest put on by The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) to honor product innovation in Alaska's seafood industry. 

The company entered the contest for the first time and won two prizes, taking first place in the Retail category for its “Premium Wild-Caught Alaska Cod with Lemon-Herb Butter” and winning the Beyond the Plate category for “Cod Crunchies,” a pet treat.

At the time, Keith Singleton, who runs the value-added division at Alaskan Leader Seafoods, was not even sure if his product was ready to compete. The resulting win, however, provided thrilling reassurance that the Alaskan Leader team was onto something with its product innovation style. 

“This is a prestigious award for us. We’ve never entered any competition at all and we’ve put in a lot of work to get here,” Singleton said in 2017, after winning the award. “There were times when we thought about giving up,” he added. 

Given the company’s latest developments, the North American industry is fortunate that Alaskan Leader was able to push through those doubts.  

In May 2019, the company launched a new marketing campaign featuring its recently-approved trademark – “America’s Cod Company” – to a great deal of buzz. The new slogan, which is set to be utilized on packages, in grocery stores, on the supplier’s fishing boats, and in other marketing, “encapsulates everything we are,” Alaskan Leader CEO Rob Wurm told SeafoodSource this summer. 

“With all these uncertainties about where our fish comes from, and who is partners with who, and with traceability, we want to make a statement that, if you are interested in those things and they are important to you, this is who we are,” Wurm added. “When you see that ‘America’s Cod Company’ label, it will tell you that you can be assured of a couple things: our fish and our story starts from integrity and transparency. Any product that you buy [from us] will have that consistent quality and integrity, and we are going to stand for that product…from the time it comes on the boat to the time it goes on your plate at the dinner table."

Alaskan Leader owns four longline fishing vessels, which feature a “new pedigree of automation and future style and class of vessels,” Singleton noted to SeafoodSource at the time.

The supplier distributes its products, which include Lemon Herb Butter Marinated Cod Portions and Cod Taco Packs, to retailers such as Costco, H.E.B., Whole Foods Market, and Publix. It also supplies foodservice distributors such as Sysco and restaurant chains such as Ivar’s.

This month, Alaskan Leader is launching a new product it intends to enter into the upcoming Alaska Symphony of Seafood and Seafood Excellence Award contests: a Fish and Chips Meal Kit, Singleton confirmed to SeafoodSource. 

“The Fish and Chips Kit is becoming wildly popular, because it’s an activity and everyone loves fish and chips. We have the french fries, the fish, the batter – everything in one box that they can prepare at home. It’s really exciting and the kids can get involved. Pretty soon, it just becomes a cohesive family group making things,” Singleton said. 

Scott Sandvig, the vice president of Alaskan Leader’s value-added division, said the latest product supports one of the company’s primary innovative aims.  

“Taking the guessing work out of cooking seafood is a part of our innovation,” Sandvig said. “Our new Fish and Chips meal kit has everything in the box, and directions are explained on the back, keeping it super simple and taking the intimidation factor out of cooking seafood.”

In addition to being a good fit for family cooking, the supplier’s Fish and Chips Meal Kit is suitable for events or get-togethers, where friends come over and “everyone gets involved and makes it,” Singleton added. 

Alaskan Leader, moving forward in its upcoming innovation endeavors, will continue to develop products that keep a pulse on relevant trends and interests. As “true blue Alaskan seafood industry promoters,” the company also intends to highlight its American-made creations that it develops with its loyal partners.

“Healthy ingredients, safe ingredients, American-made products. We like to promote and produce as much from American-made plants as possible,” Singleton said. 

“We love to make stuff, and hopefully everyone loves what we make,” he concluded.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Leader Seafoods


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