Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pre-Ordering is Key to Harvester’s Direct Marketing Plan

A wild salmon harvester intent on increasing direct marketing opportunities for commercial fishermen in Southeast Alaska is promoting his fledging business on Internet social media, attracting thousands of dollars in pre-paid seafood orders.

His plan, says Craig Kasberg, of Juneau, Alaska, is to direct market wild salmon captured in gillnet fisheries, and to provide opportunity for other harvesters to do the same through his facility, Alaska Seafood Source, which will send certified sustainable Alaska caught crab, salmon and halibut directly to the customer’s front door, using reusable packaging materials.

Kasberg, who started out working on a vessel owned by a family friend in Juneau just eight years ago, said in an interview April 6 that this is also an opportunity to connect consumers directly to the fishermen who caught their seafood, and to teach consumers about healthy, sustainable seafood, so they can make educated decisions on purchasing for their own homes.

He cites a study by the conservation organization Oceana, which said that in the United States, 80 percent of seafood is imported, and one-third of seafood is mislabeled.

Commercial harvesters in Prince William Sound, Bristol Bay, the Kenai Peninsula and other parts of Southeast Alaska have already found much success in direct marketing their catch. Yet, said Kasberg, up until now the Juneau area has not had the facilities to allow them to do this.

He got off to a running start in mid-March using an Internet website called Kickstarter, where he was able to solicit upwards of $18,000 in advance orders for wild Alaska salmon to help finance a 350-square-foot industrial grade walk-in style freezer, high-quality reusable packaging materials, horizontal-flow vacuum packaging machine and supplies, as well as commercial grade scales. The freezer alone, he said, will cost about $30,000.

“A lot of people don’t know much about wild seafood, so the Internet promotions are sparking a lot of interest,” Kasberg said. “I’m trying to post a lot of facts about how Alaska manages its fisheries, and to tell them about the health benefits of wild versus farmed fish.”

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