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With bumper harvest, Bristol Bay ramps up marketing

With catch numbers skyrocketing, the BBRSDA is focusing on the consumer. 

Last year, Bristol Bay processors produced more tons of H&G fresh sockeye and frozen sockeye fillets than ever before -- and they are expected to prioritize those forms again this year, according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA). 

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Fresh H&G sockeye jumped 657 percent from 2015 to 2016 and fillets jumped 52 percent in time frame, astonishing numbers. This year's huge sockeye harvest -- already at more than 29 million fish -- will likely result in similarly large volumes.

"However, processors can only meet these market demands if they receive No. 1 quality product," the BBRSDA explained. 

The group has launched a campaign called "Quality is Catching. Get on Board." which promotes "best handling practices to the fleet," BBRSDA Executive Director Becky Martello told IntraFish

Live updates: Bristol Bay sockeye nears 30 million

"This season, we're airing PSAs featuring different fishermen talking about the importance of quality," she said. 

With the help of "every major processor," the association has distributed several thousand infographics on best practices and the economic benefits of chilling fish to fishermen.

For the second season, the BBRSDA is providing its new Bristol Bay sockeye salmon labels for the market. Martello said five big processors are participating this year -- Trident Seafoods, Leader Creek Fisheries, Alaska General Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods

"This is simply another way to get the brand out in front of consumers," she said. "As a regional seafood development association, we don't own or move product ourselves, so it's critical to get the buy-in and support from processors in order to help us promote and build this regional brand." 

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Now, the association is marching forward, adding more flexibility for retailers that want to explore promoting non-H&G forms of Bristol Bay sockeye. It's also moving forward with its "Wild Taste, Amazing Place" campaign, which saw huge success in Colorado. The group worked with retailers to educate the seafood staff on Bristol Bay, created point-of-sale items such as recipe cards and launched a digital campaign throughout the city of Boulder. 

Martello said BBRSDA is working to develop partnership with major regional retailers in other cities to create similar campaigns. 

"We've been pleased with the level of interest," she said. 

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