Trade mission looks to build US seafood exports in Southeast Asia

Published on
June 14, 2017

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and a group of U.S. marketing organizations are gearing up for a second trade export mission to Southeast Asia in as many years, hoping to crack a large, untapped market of seafood consumers.

Hannah Lindoff, international program director for ASMI, said industry members who council ASMI committees urged the marketing agency to pursue markets in Southeast Asia, leading to a government grant and a trade mission through Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam in 2016.

Although the prospects from that first trip were positive, ASMI was not bullish about getting grant money for a second trip and advised industry participants that the mission was likely a one-off. But ASMI found that cooperator Food Export Northeast – whom they had been working with on a global-based initiative to increase exports to China – was also interested in exploring seafood sales in Southeast Asia.  

“[Food Export Northeast] actually did most of the work on the grant. We helped them with information that we had but they were able to get cooperation from American Indian Foods, Food Export Association Midwest, Southern United States Trade Association and WUSATA (Western U.S. Trade Association). So basically we’ve been able to bring in the entire U.S. and we’re all working together to promote U.S. seafoods in Southeast Asia,” Lindoff said. 

The trade mission will take industry members for seminars and meetings in Singapore and Bangkok 10 to 14 September. Briefings with qualified buyers will include representatives from Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. 

Southeast Asia represents an emerging market that is large and large diverse, driven by consumers with a hunger for seafood who are drawn to products from the United States, Lindoff said.

“It has a lot of potential as an end market and it has a lot of potential as a reprocessing market, so we have several interests in the market. And I think it’s one where the U.S.A. brand really stands for quality and means something,” she said. 

In high-end markets like Singapore, consumers are developing a taste for top-shelf products sockeye salmon, king crab and spot prawns. Interest in salmon and salmon heads is prevalent in other countries like Thailand and Indonesia, but Lindoff said consumers need to be coached in the difference between wild and farmed salmon. 

Contributing Editor reporting from Seattle, USA

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