The Alaska Seafood Marketing Association’s Global Food Aid Program is working to broaden the use of Alaska seafood both domestically and internationally in food aid programs. Bruce Schactler, who overseas the food aid program for ASMI, says they are moving to get more seafood included in all US Department of Agriculture programs and to align Alaska seafood with the priorities of domestic and international food air markets while anticipating future trends. The food aid market has been a reliable and very good customer for Alaska seafood, Schactler told participants this week in ASMI’s All Hands meeting in Anchorage.
The preference in several domestic feeding programs has been for Alaska Pollock and canned salmon. US Department of Agriculture purchases from processors of wild Alaska seafood over the past year totaled over $55 million, including nearly $30 million in canned sockeye salmon, $13 million in canned pink salmon, nearly $6 million in kosher canned pink salmon, nearly $5 million in Alaska Pollock, and $1.5 million in the newest product-salmon fillets.
The recent purchase of 216,000 pounds of sockeye or coho salmon fillet portions was the first in a pilot program to expand the food aid basket of Native American tribes with more traditional food, and, said Schactler, ASMI will be working to expand this program next year.
ASMI is also working with USDA and the Alaska Pollock producers to boost purchases to both domestic and international food and nutrition programs. In September, USDA released a federal purchase program specification for whole grain breaded Alaska Pollock sticks to include now in any of their procurements.
At the request of USDA and other institutional food aid partners, the Alaska Global Food Aid Program has also been exploring for some time the use of herring and seafood powder for various food aid programs, he said.