Study, Oprah making waves about salmon

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Consumers searching for a healthy way to shed those unwanted holiday pounds may be looking north this year.

Cook Inlet Salmon Brand Inc., a salmon branding program designed to promote premium quality salmon from Cook Inlet, is hoping to take advantage of increased national awareness of salmon's health benefits by ramping up its marketing efforts as 2005 approaches.

"There's kind of an uptick after the new year that we hope to take advantage of," Sylvia Beaudoin, CISB executive director said Monday.

Although there aren't any salmon fishing boats out on Cook Inlet this this time of year, now is the time when the CISB actively seeks customers for its trademark Kenai Wild sockeye salmon.

"Things are chugging along," Beaudoin said.

The Kenai Wild program began nearly four years ago as a way to bring high-quality wild fish to the market to compete with farm-raised salmon from British Columbia, Norway and Chile. Because those fish are harvested in ways that are less taxing on the salmon, inlet fishers were left out in the cold as commodity prices for salmon plummeted.

Although the price for bulk sockeye salmon still hovers near historically low numbers, the Kenai Wild fish marketed by CISB sells for a premium because it is certified.

That means CISB is able to market its fish to Outside restaurants and supermarkets. Beaudoin said recent reports on the health benefits of eating salmon including a recent piece touting the fish on the Oprah Winfrey show means more and more people across the nation are waking up to the fact that eating salmon is a necessary way to stay healthy.

"We couldn't have asked for a better promotion," she said.

Beaudoin said she's currently working on lining up Kenai Wild promotions in a number of chain supermarkets in the Lower 48, including more than 100 stores in Missouri and 20 in Michigan.

In addition, CISB hopes to have a Web site for people interested in purchasing the fish up and running by the end of the year.

Kenai Wild fish also is featured in a number of restaurants both in Alaska and the Lower 48, and Beaudoin said an Anchorage chef recently agreed to serve only Kenai Wild fish to his customers.

These winter marketing efforts are designed to increase the amount of orders for the fish when next year's season rolls around.

"Right now we're just trying to do a lot of different things to increase the volume of orders for next season," Beaudoin said.

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