Since 1994, the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) has conducted the Alaska Symphony of Seafood (Symphony) each year celebrating creative new commercial-ready products made from Alaska seafood. The purpose of the event is to encourage and promote the development of value-added products through this annual, friendly competition.  Product development is critically important to the entire industry and the fishing communities that depend on it. Innovative new products allow the industry to remain relevant to consumers, encourage full utilization, and help diversify markets which leads to more stable value for the resource in the long-term.

Products can be entered into three categories: Retail, Foodservice, and Beyond the Plate.  Beyond the Plate is for non-food items such as pet treats, supplements, leathers, and bath or body products.  Additionally, products entered are eligible to win the following special awards: Bristol Bay Choice, Whitefish Choice, Salmon Choice, Seattle People’s Choice, Juneau People’s Choice, and the coveted Grand Prize. Winners are provided airfare and booth space at the Seafood Expo North America (SENA).  

As an additional benefit, AFDF pays to enter the winning products into the SENA new products contest, called the Seafood Excellence Awards (SEA).  This year, two Symphony winners made it to the top 11 finalists in the Retail category:  Wild Caught Alaska Salmon with Ribbon Kelp Chimichurri, by Peter Pan Seafood, and Wild Salmon Chowder by Thunder’s Catch.   The finalists competed in front of a group of judges in Boston through a tasting and an in-person pitch of their products.  As a result, for the first time, the winner of the SEA Retail category was also a Symphony winner – Thunder’s Catch with its Wild Salmon Chowder!  This new product is a shelf-stable, hearty chowder in a to-go pouch, that won Bristol Bay Choice and Juneau People’s Choice in the Symphony.  In Boston, they surprised everyone (including themselves) by taking home the top prize for a retail product in North America!

Since their big win in Boston, AFDF followed up with Kara Berlin and Taran White, founders and owners of Thunder’s Catch.  They said the Boston show was a whirlwind, but they have seen subsequent results. For example, Taran reports that Thunder’s Catch will be in nearly 300 more stores starting September 2023, and they are in discussions with a major retail chain and are exploring a larger, food service package. 

Peter Pan Seafood (PPS) stepped into product development for the first time with their Wild Caught Alaska Salmon with Ribbon Kelp Chimichurri, which was a triple winner, taking home 1st place Retail, Salmon Choice and the Grand Prize in the Symphony!  This is an exciting new product that features a portioned Bristol Bay sockeye fillet with a delicious chimichurri recipe made with Ribbon Kelp grown in Alaska! 

Michael DeCaro says, “For Peter Pan, the Alaska Symphony of Seafood provided a wonderful opportunity to showcase the potential of the new Peter Pan Seafood Co., LLC to both our industry and consumers as we continue to refocus our food trends, as well as new economic development opportunities for Alaska seafood processors and fishermen.  A large group of partners, the Alaska Mariculture Cluster, received a $49 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, to support the development of this new part of the industry.  PPS seems to be positioning to take advantage of this new opportunity.

The fact that Thunder’s Catch won the Retail category in Boston this year is a great testament to the high quality of products that win the Symphony! The 2023 winners of the Symphony demonstrate that excellent new products can come from small companies, large companies, or companies who have never made a value-added product before.  Then these winners, as well as previous winners and entrants, can leverage the Symphony platform and continue to see increased sales and market exposure of their products.  We are excited to see what entries there are for next year!  Stay tuned for updates and the Call for Products, with a new category and new special awards, coming this summer at  

Kara Berlin of Thunder's Catch with its prize winning Wild Salmon Chowder. ASMI photo.

Founded in 1978, AFDF is dedicated to identifying common opportunities in the Alaska seafood industry and developing efficient, sustainable outcomes that provide benefits to the economy, environment and communities. For more information, visit

Julie Decker is executive director at AFDF, and has worked in various positions in the Alaska seafood industry for thirty years.

Julie Cisco is executive administrator at AFDF and will be thenew lead in organizing the Symphony. She has worked in the Alaska seafood industry for over thirty years. 

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