The second biennial Global Food Alaska conference and trade show was hosted on the Kenai Peninsula last week. According to Robin Richardson with the Global Food Collaborative in Anchorage the purpose of the event was to bring together Alaska's supply chain of food, beverage and agriculture products to meet directly with buyers and be able to collaborate on opportunities so that Alaska is on the leading edge of competitive food producers in the world. Richardson believes there are many areas where Alaska can successfully enter the global market, "Certainly in our commercial seafood industry we are already in the global market place, but I feel there is a lot more opportunity in the way of value added and ready to eat products. It's a wild fishery and a fixed quantity so its a premium product and we need to be making the best value from that and doing more in our quality control," Richardson told the Dispatch, "But I also think that areas that hold future promise for Alaska which are yet to be tapped are nutraceuticals or what I call agri-products, items that can be made from the bounty of our land and marine resource. One example is the fish oil product that is made by Alaska Protein Recovery in Juneau and marketed in Costco that is made strictly from wastes at seafood processing plants," said Richardson. The trade show and conference was not only a chance for suppliers to meet with buyers, but to listen to them, "One half of each of the days was dedicated to listening to what's important to buyers with the idea being to be very market driven," said Robinson.
The opening plenary session of the conference included addresses from Jim Jansen, CEO, Lynden Inc., who spoke of the nuts and bolts of making deliveries happen in Alaska and former Alaska U.S. Senator Ted Stevens who inspired the gathering to a standing ovation addressing Alaska's challenges and opportunities. Governor Palin showed her support of the event by proclaiming June 10-12 Global Food Alaska Days, in recognition of the contribution of Alaska's farmers, producers, and fishermen encouraging all Alaskans to support our local industries by purchasing Alaskan grown and local seafood products, "I support Global Food Alaska 2009 for its efforts to provide access and collaboration with Alaska's entirea food supply chain from harvest to market," wrote the Governor in her proclamation.
Special guest Deputy Under Secretary, Victor Vasquez of the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to the conference to present special Leadership Awards for accomplishments in manufacturing/processing, harvesting/growing in Alaska and pulling Alaska product into the marketplace. Those selected for the awards were Geoff Larson, owner of Alaska Brewing Co., Rob George, president of The Crab Broker, and Michael East, owner of Kahiltna Birchworks.
An example of a new product being harvested in Bethel, processed on the Kenai and manufactured in New Jersey is an arctic botanical cosmetic product to be known as "Arxotica." The new line of five cosmetics was created by the Sparck triplets from Bethel and blends ancient knowledge of medicinal arctic plants with modern marketing technology, "Our idea was actually born from traditional Eskimo knowledge of plants and medicine. We've always known there was great value and use for what we harvested every year and had wondered what else could be done with these materials, so when we put our product plan forward we interviewed elders for their knowledge of traditional plants and selected the worm wood, black berry (crow berry), and fireweed flower and infused ancient knowledge with modern science to produce our product line," explained Cika Sparck. For more information about the conference or future efforts of Global Food Alaska 2009 go to www.globalfoodscollaborative.com to learn more about Arxotica cosmetics and botanicals go to www.arxotica.com.
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