Alaskan producers launch Wild Alaska Sole Association to boost sole's "significant advantages"

Alaska sole on a bed of vegetables.

Several Alaskan flatfish producers have teamed up to form a nonprofit marketing association aimed at increasing both consumer and industry awareness around Alaska sole.

The new venture, dubbed the Wild Alaska Sole Association (WASA), aims to catapult the fish’s popularity both domestically and abroad. Members include Fishermen’s Finest, North Star Fishing, Ocean Peace, O’Hara Corporation, and U.S. Seafoods, with American Seafoods and Glacier Fish Company serving as associate members. The latter company’s president, Jim Johnson, is serving WASA in the same capacity.

The Alaska flatfish fishery is the largest of its kind in the world. It has been certified to  Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) standards for over a decade.

As consumers continue to prioritize healthy, delicious protein products that are environmentally friendly when shopping at retail, WASA members believe Alaskan sole perfectly aligns with emerging trends, Johnson said in a statement.

“Wild Alaska sole is well-positioned to meet the demand for wild whitefish, especially with the recent exclusion of Russian whitefish in the U.S. market,” Johnson said. “Our fish has significant advantages over inferior farmed whitefish options. It’s an abundant and conservatively managed fishery that can provide consistent, high-quality supply. Best of all, it offers all of the benefits the U.S. consumer is looking for – great taste, a unique eating experience, tremendous nutritional benefits, and certified sustainability.”

The group plans to emphasize those benefits once it creates consumer campaigns and product promotions, according to Johnson.

However, first, WASA is aiming to effectively conclude its brand development phase, which has so far included a deep analysis of the global flatfish market, consumer research into the U.S. and some European markets, and brainstorming effective strategies on how to leverage that research into the creation of a global marketable brand for Alaskan sole.

“Our initial research shows that consumers who are familiar with wild Alaska sole have a very positive impression about the fish,” Johnson said.

The key is now to attract consumers unaware that a sustainable, delicious option like sole is on the market. Once it does entice a larger consumer base, Johnson said WASA's members are confident that the species will soon become a staple for seafood lovers worldwide.

“We are committed to making sure that more consumers learn about our fish, its great taste, and [its] sustainability so wild Alaska sole will be top of mind when deciding what to eat for dinner,” Johnson said.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute


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