Seafood event organizers look beyond Last Frontier

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Alaska Symphony of Seafood is about to conquer a new frontier outside the state.

This winter, the popular contest for new food products based on Alaska-caught fish will be held in ''a large metropolitan area'' in the Lower 48, said Marc Jones, executive director of the private, nonprofit Alaska Fisheries Develop-ment Foundation, sponsor of the event. The city won't be selected for another couple of weeks, he said. Anchorage will still be a major part of the Symphony. A public tasting soiree will return to the city in February, Jones said.

In past years, the foundation has brought in big-name chefs, restaurant executives and food writers to judge newfangled seafood products for their taste, packaging and market potential. The judging was held at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.

The Symphony also features a monthlong seafood promotion in select Anchorage restaurants with special menus, plates and banners.

The new productions competition, which is closed to the public, is being moved Outside because participating seafood processors want more marketing exposure, Jones said.

Few major processors are based in Alaska, and most of the seafood they handle is marketed in the Lower 48 or abroad. Last year processors entered 18 new products, such as Tabasco Cod Fillet Tenders from Seattle-based Trident Seafoods Corp. and Salmon Santa Fe from AquaCuisine Inc. of Boise, Idaho. The grand prize, however, went to the smoked king salmon strips from Maserculiq Fish Processors Inc., a small Native company with a processing plant in the Yukon River village of Marshall.

By moving the contest Outside, processors hope to get broader media and marketing exposure than they have in Alaska, Jones said. And more processors might be enticed to enter.

''The whole idea is to get more processors making more things out of Alaska seafood,'' Jones told the Anchorage Daily News. ''Hopefully, some of those will catch on and become great Alaska success stories.''

Glenn Reed, president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association in Seattle, said moving the contest is a good idea.

''This is where the market is,'' he said, referring to the Lower 48. ''If you get press in Los Angeles or San Francisco or Seattle or Denver, that might be better than having the contest at Alyeska.''

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