Alaskan Leader, which partners with the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, fishes four freezer longliners in and around the Bering Sea. On Nov. 18 at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, its seafoods division received awards for its new lemon herb butter cod, as well as a pet treat made from cod byproduct.
Keith "Corky" Singleton heads up the company's value added division and was trying to call BBEDC chairman H. Robin Samuelsen to share the good news when KDLG caught up with him. The lemon butter herb cod had taken first in the "retail" category, recognized for its rapid market spread that started with Costco.
"We were very quick," Singleton said, pointing out that the trial run in Northwest stores had been well received. "As soon as they saw the results, they expanded us quickly into the Southeast of America and also in the Northeast. We're probably in over 250 Costco stores now, and growing, and also in 330 H-E-B stores in Texas. Safeway is coming online now. We're really taking flight."
The Symphony of Seafoods contest helps recognize companies that find innovative and interesting ways to put more seafood products onto more plates. What has made this lemon herb butter-flavored wild Alaska cod so successful, said Singleton, is that "it's easy," something American consumers desperately want with their fish.
"You just thaw it, cut open the pouch, squeeze all the fish and sauce into a baking dish, bake it for 15 to 20 minutes and you have dinner. It's awesome," he said, admitting some pride in beating out some of some of the major companies.
Singleton spoke highly of BBEDC, which he said had given a lot of support as he and his team spent two years creating the new product and pushing it to market.
"It's always a great relationship with them. I give huge kudos to Robin Samuelsen and Norm Van Vactor … and now we're reaping the rewards," he said.
Singleton took to the stage a second time Saturday to receive the first place award in the "beyond the plate" category for Alaskan Leader's Cod Crunchies, a dog treat developed from cod byproduct.
"There were piles and piles of trim coming off these fillets," he said, recalling the development. Those scraps were put through a mincer, then dehydrated in a salmon jerky machine, and formed "into these cute little wafers for animals. We gave it to a dog, and he chased us all around the place."
Wild Alaska Cod Crunchies was born, and Singleton said it has been "super popular" so far.
Singleton spoke of how e-commerce will help sales of both of these products, as younger people look for healthy, sustainable, and easy-to-prepare food that they can buy online and have delivered to their doors.
This story was originally published in the KDLG and is reprinted here with permission.