Salmon for breakfast?

Conference showcases new products, facilitates networking

Alaska just might be the only place where you can buy salmon bacon. But thanks to this week’s industry conference, many more people will know about it.

Tustumena Smokehouse introduced its salmon bacon product at the Global Food Alaska 2011 conference and showcase taking place at the Soldonta Sports Center. The smokehouse was one of more than 200 participants in this year’s event.

The showcase is organized by a product of Global Food Collaborative, GFC-Connect. The purpose is for food producers to network with marketers, distributors and other entities that can help expand a business.

“It’s designed to help those companies generate business in terms of ways that they can work together,” GFC-Connect Member Manager Robin Richardson said.

The showcase takes place every two years to accommodate for production times during the summer for Alaska companies, and Richardson said there aren’t enough new products for a yearly event.

There were samples aplenty throughout the show floor, including BLT sandwiches made with Tustumena Smokehouse’s salmon bacon. Fred West, owner and president of the smokehouse, located in Soldotna, said the salmon bacon provides a healthy alternative to pork. The idea, West said, came about when he found out his granddaughter could not eat beef or anything that has nitrates or hormones.

“We thought we’d come up with something for her,” West said, “so she could have a breakfast and have bacon and eggs.”

Along with the rest of the smokehouse’s products, the bacon is all natural, maple-cured, with no added preservatives or fillers.

As for how they are able to turn salmon into bacon, West said that information is classified.

“That’s a trade secret,” West said with a smile.

Another interesting product talked about at the showcase was from Alaska Botanicals and Teas, which developed massage oil from devil’s club plants.

The showcase allowed for businesses to hear from Jo Dawson, program coordinator for the Child Nutrition Programs at the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and Dean Hamburg, nutrition director, Kenai Peninsula School District about how their foods could be included in school meal plans.

Dawson told the participants how the famed salmon wraps from Taco Loco and Copper River Seafoods were implemented into school meal plans in the state.  

“All school meal program directors like myself are interested in adding more Alaska products to our school meal menus,” Hamburg said.

The showcase wraps up Saturday with an optional visit to Homer where participants can tour Bear Creek Winery, Kachemak Shellfish Cooperative and the Auction Block at the end of the Homer Spit where wild halibut are auctioned off.

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