Trident Seafood's Alaska pollock was introduced to throngs of visitors this month at Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market -- the first campaign of its kind for the fish, and a further step in the company's drive to push the species into new areas.
Ryan Yokoyama, who has been a fishmonger with Pike Place for 14 years, told IntraFish the pollock, which retails at around $6.00 (€5.44) per pound and was offered in whole and fillet forms, was already a hit with the market's predominantly out-of-town seafood buyers.
Tourists flock to the Pike Place fish market with expectations of seeing the freshest Pacific Northwest seafood, as well as the storied fish-tossing skills of the fishmongers.
Alaska pollock as a fresh offering is an ideal option for budget-conscious consumers in land-locked areas such as the US Midwest.
"Most of the fish they eat out there is tilapia. That's cheap," Yokoyama said. "Having something wild-caught and Alaskan at that price point entices people."
Ryan Reese, co-owner of Pike Place, also highlighted the affordable price point as important to making the market's coveted seafood more accessible to consumers.
"Let’s face the fact that for some, wild sustainable seafood can price some folks out of the market," he said. "Offering wild Alaskan pollock is a no-brainer for us."
Part of a larger push for pollock nationwide
Craig Morris, CEO of the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP), told IntraFish Trident's foray into the market is part of a larger industry push to introduce Alaska pollock in forms where it is not hidden as surimi or breaded as fish sticks.
"One thing we're working hard at GAPP on is getting Alaska pollock into the full-service seafood case," he said.
Trident recently won listing at Whole Foods, where it debuted a new, three-pound value pack of frozen Alaska pollock fillets in stores across several states, a project that was funded by GAPP's North American Partnership program, which launched in January.
In April, GAPP also awarded Trident an unspecified portion of a $1 million (€907,143) funding round to increase demo support for its Alaska pollock protein noodles in club stores located in the Northeast and the Bay Area of California.
Spreading the wealth
While the partnership money has so far been awarded to well-known players in Alaska pollock that include Trident, High Liner, Cooke's True North and Fish People, Morris said GAPP's efforts attract new partners is also working.
The group has largely been attracting downstream buyers -- such as retailers, foodservice operators and distributors -- to apply for its third round of $1.7 million (€1.5 million), he said.
For 2019-2020, GAPP set aside $3 million (€2.7 million) for this initiative, and has allocated just over $1.3 million (€1.2 million) to date for partnerships in the first two rounds of funding.
"Proposals this round have run the gamut," he said of the third round. "Without giving too much away, I can say that the [GAPP] board really was hoping for some surimi proposals and we got them. So that’s exciting to see some product forms besides fillet coming to the table for consideration."
GAPP is currently reviewing the applications for its third round of funding. The winners of the round will be announced Dec. 15.