Wild Alaska pollock conference touts “perfect protein”
The Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) held its first-ever Wild Alaska Pollock Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday, 29 October. The tagline of the conference was “Celebrating our Perfect Protein” and featured talks from politicians, marketers, economists, retailers, and others.
The meeting focused on how industry professionals can push wild Alaska pollock to center stage as an abundant, healthy, and sustainable protein source.
“We’re heading into a global protein shortage, I believe that, and it’s seafood’s moment, and I truly believe that as well. We need to be thoughtful, strategic, and hungry. We need to be opportunistic and take our rightful place at the table as a protein leader,” new GAPP CEO Craig Morris said in kicking off the meeting.
A high-volume fishery that has largely maintained consistent stock numbers, Alaska pollock has averaged a total allowable catch of around 1.3 million metric tons over the past 30 years, with this year’s TAC at 1.4 million metric tons. Rod Rogness, an economic consultant who works with GAPP, calculates the first wholesale for Alaska pollock products at USD 1.5 billion (EUR 1.3 billion).
Despite the large wholesale figure, much of the conference was spent on Alaska pollock’s market potential. In the past months, GAPP has talked to stakeholders across the supply chain and worked with communications consultant Ketchum Analytics to conduct in-depth focus groups and consumer surveys. The goal is to make wild Alaska pollock a solid brand, and to find a way to market it with a clear, convincing message.
Mary Elizabeth Germaine, who leads Ketchum’s research, measurement, and analytics sector, said while the fish has good name recognition, few people know about the Alaska pollock fishery, a wild, sustainable fishery in the cold, clean waters of the Bering Sea.
“The good thing is that when we explain what the fish is, we see it increase in demand,” said Germaine, adding that wild Alaska pollock is in line with the ideals of young millennial consumers.
On the policy side, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sent a video to the conference stating her support for the wild Alaska pollock industry, and Alaska Senate Majority Leader attended the conference in person.
“This is the perfect protein, as you’ve called it here, and there’s absolutely no reason, if we control and do it properly, that we won’t be able to provide it for a very long time,” Stevens said, adding that much of his district is dependent on the commercial fishing industry.
The revamped GAPP rolled out a new website at the conference as well as its new mascot, Dutch, named after Dutch Harbor, the main homeport for Alaska’s pollock fishery.
Photo courtesy of F. Folas/Shutterstock