Wild Alaska salmon processed into a powder is a work in progress of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, in an effort to market millions of pounds of the fish, while providing protein to hungry people worldwide.
Nutritionists contracted by ASMI are currently concentrating on making the salmon powder as “sensory neutral” as possible, said Bruce Schactler, of Kodiak, who heads up ASMI’s global food aid program.
The powder is made from heads and frames of salmon, in a process that is still in the development phase. Right now it is 65 percent protein, but all indications are we can improve on that, he said.
There is potential for pollock and cod too, but that would involve working out details with the seafood industry for product that could be produced in an economically feasible manner for the industry during the fishing seasons for both pollock and cod, he said.
A major factor in big food aid programs is their limit on the cost of freight. Freight costs are significant for canned salmon and canned herring, and the same product in powdered form would be less expensive to ship. ‘Right now the raw product for salmon powder is coming from the waste stream of heads and frames not being used at all, primarily pink salmon.
ASMI officials say their pilot project on consumer acceptability of Alaska salmon powder among 7,000 children in the Republic of Congo during the 2014-2015 school year is a huge success.
Funding for research and development of the powdered salmon has been a real public-private partnership, involving funding from the Alaska Legislature, the seafood industry and non-government organizations. It is these NGOs who participate in developing and distributing these products in Asia and Africa, in areas where high quality proteins are lacking in diets.
ASMI officials said that the Republic of Congo project demonstrated that salmon powder can be consumed daily during the school year and provide vital nutrients on a mass scale. With high consumer ratings, the product has huge commercial possibilities, they said.
Participants from coastal communities especially liked the salmon, and enjoyed the strong fish flavor. They said the powder would have great potential in areas of high fish consumption and appreciation of strong flavored or salty fish, including Liberia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, and Southeast Asia countries like the Philippines, Cambodia and Laos.
The project, said ASMI officials, is generating valuable consumer information to develop a retail product that allows more high quality marine nutrients to be delivered per unit of product.
“We are working on trying to come up with the right recipe, that tastes good enough to get people to eat enough to get the right protein,” Schactler said.