China trade delegation samples Kodiak seafood

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- Eleven seafood buyers from China visited Thursday to learn about Alaska seafood.

Members of the China Seafood Trade Delegation said the main selling point of Alaska salmon is the fact that it is ''wild and unpolluted.''

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute marketing specialist Autumn Curry said that between Petersburg and Kodiak, the delegation saw just about every type of fish Alaska has to offer, including halibut, shrimp, crab, red snapper, starry flounder, salmon, geoduck and sea cucumbers.

''This is the first time ASMI has brought over the Chinese delegation,'' Curry said. ''It was two years in the making.''

Two years ago, ASMI applied for a Cochran Fellowship grant. The grant allots money to enhance trade and create goodwill between emerging markets and the United States.

''Our purpose is to educate these 11 Chinese seafood buyers as to how we process Alaska seafood, and to generate sales and connections with the buyers and our Alaska domestic suppliers,'' Curry said. ''On Monday we had one-on-one meetings in Seattle to establish contacts. A number of the buyers are looking for specific things. We were trying to match the buyer with the supplier and create some opportunities,'' she said.

Joel Cho, a wholesaler and distributor for Hong Kong markets, said sashimi, or raw fish, has been the most typical use of salmon in Hong Kong. Pan-fried salmon is second.

''One of our goals is to introduce a more Western way of utilizing salmon, and see more restaurants offering salmon on their menus,'' he said.

Though the Asian economy is struggling, residents are willing to pay for good seafood, he said. Eighty percent of the Alaska seafood exported to Hong Kong is black cod and 20 percent a combination of other fish.

Hou Huo Xin, president of the New Continent Foods in Qingdao, China, said his company is the biggest seafood processor in China.

''Our major resource has been chum and pinks from Russian boats,'' Xin said. ''The year before last we bought chum from Alaska and last year we bought 500 tons of pinks from Alaska. The finished product is sold in Europe.''

He said that because of cheap labor in China, workers are able to do the delicate job of removing pinbones by hand. They create value-added product by hand, such as cutting the fish into custom weights as low as 1-2 grams.

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