ASMI supports Team Japan in Culinary Olympics
The Juneau-based Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is working with the All Japan Chef’s Association to sponsor Team Japan in the Culinary Olympics.
The International Culinary Exhibition, well-known known by its German acronym of IKA or as the "Culinary Olympics," was carried out for the first time in Frankfurt on the Main in the year 1900. Held every four years, it has become the biggest and most traditional culinary exhibition in the world. The competition, to be held in Erfurt, Germany, will include entries from 45 nations. The German Chefs Association will host the event at Messe Erfurt from 6 to 9 October, 2012.
The Japanese domestic preliminaries for hot and cold dishes have already begun, and ASMI Japan will support the team all the way to thefinals. ASMI-Japan is promoting and educating the chefs about Alaska seafood, and supplying Pacific cod and snow crab for the chefs to develop new recipes with.The sponsorship is just one of many initiatives begun by ASMI’s new Japan marketing representative, Tokyo-based Aviareps Marketing Garden Ltd., since the organization contracted with them in October 2011.
Aviareps expects that this activity will increase awareness of Alaska seafood and ASMI's support of Japan on the global stage (the ASMIlogo will be on the competition uniform). ASMI Japan is also building a long-term relationship with the All Japan Chefs Association, so that it can call uponthem for ASMI events, and they expect that the chefs will promote Alaska seafood on a word-of-mouth basis.
Aviareps also arranged collaboration with the Japan Authorized Cooks Association for training of young chefs. This association specializes in “kaiseki” (Japanese style course meals). The training event took place on 31 July and 1 August at Arima Onsen, a hot springs resort near Kobe. ASMI Japan introduced Alaska seafood to approximately 200 young chefs, and provided samples for the training, including sockeye salmon, king crab,snow crab, Alaska pollock, pollock roe, herring roe, salmon roe, black cod and yellowfin sole.
Benjamin Roitblat, online/offline promotions manager for Aviareps said, “This was an excellent opportunity to promote Alaska seafood and educate young chefs, who are eager to learn about ingredients but have limited budgets to work with.” Roitblat said that younger chefs are more flexible and accommodating to new ideas, and now that they are educated and use Alaska seafood, ASMI Japan can call upon them for future events.
Aviareps represented ASMI to the trade at FOODEX 2012 and at the International Seafood and Technology Show, held in Tokyo on 6-9 March and 18-20July, respectively. At the latter, they hosted a talk-show style interview of famous sommelier/restaurant owner Shinya Tasaki. The wine expert, in addition to commenting on pairing of wines and seafood, told the audience of his surprise at the size of Alaska halibut, the confusion of many Japanese between cutthroat trout (often called “trout-salmon” in Japan) and other salmon species, and what he considers the mistaken Japanese idea that fatty always equals delicious.
Alexa Tonkovich, ASMI international program coordinator for Asia said, “While our program in Japan has always included consumer, trade and hotel/restaurant promotions, Aviareps has added new ideas and energy to ourconsumer and hotel/restaurant programs. We’re very impressed with all they’ve been able to accomplish in their first year.”
A new Japanese advertising tagline for was developed late last fall, went through consumer focus group testing, and was vetted with key industry partners in Japan and the United States. The tagline “wild, natural, sustainable” had previously always been printed in English in Japanese newspaper ads and other promotional material, but Aviareps reported that the tagline in English was unnecessary as it could not be understood by Japanese consumers. A new tagline, “The Natural Taste, from Alaska,” in Japanese translation, has been adopted.
Aviareps conducted two press trips to Alaska this summer to generate publicity in Japanese consumer publications Jnude, Suntory Wellness, Ecocolo and on cable TV channel J:Com. Tonkavich said press trips helpsell the Alaska origin story, which is one of Alaska seafood’s key selling points. They also re-worked ASMI’s domestic “Cook It Frozen!” campaign, which teaches consumers how to cook Alaska seafood straight from the freezer, for a Japanese audience.
On the hotel/restaurant side, Aviareps has conducted restaurant promotions in Japan with Red Lobster, Oregon Bar & Grill, Bubby’s, Restaurant S and at the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (two restaurants).