The Alaska Symphony of Seafood has celebrated creative products made from Alaska seafood since 1994, when it was launched by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. Following a one-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the competition is back and ready for kick-off at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle!
“The renowned Alaska Symphony of Seafood is a great way to learn about the extraordinary efforts the industry has made to develop value-added products, to reduce fish waste, and to increase the value of Alaska’s seafood,” said Julie Decker, the foundation’s longtime executive director.
The event is designed to encourage and promote the development of value-added products made from fisheries resources taken from the pristine waters of Alaska. The categories this year are Salmon, Whitefish, Retail, Food Service and Beyond the Plate. Additionally, products will be eligible to win special awards in the following categories: Seattle People’s Choice, Juneau People’s Choice, Bristol Bay Choice, and the coveted Grand Prize.
First-place winners from each category are sent to Seafood Expo North America in Boston in March 2022 and entered into the expo’s Seafood Excellence Awards, a competition for new products.
“From start to finish, the Alaska Symphony of Seafood offers a means to publicize new products, promote a healthy food, and helps expand the worldwide markets for products made from Alaska seafood,” said Decker.
Previous winners and entrants have leveraged the Symphony platform and continue to see increased sales and market exposure of their products. Bullwhip Hot Sauce, by Barnacle Foods, was a triple winner in 2019-20 — Retail, Juneau People’s Choice and Grand Prize.
“The Alaska Symphony of Seafood encourages all seafood processors to prioritize innovation in product development,” said Barnacle Foods upon winning the Grand Prize in 2019-20.
Seattle’s health and safety mandates currently allow for an in-person Symphony event on Nov. 17. AFDF will continue to monitor the data and will provide updates to industry and partners on the 2021-22 competition and events.
The Alaska Symphony of Seafood is 100 percent funded by industry and its supporters each year. The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association has committed to a three-year partnership with AFDF to help expand the reach of the Symphony. This partnership is a highlight of the organizations’ shared goal of diversified markets and innovative products to improve the ex-vessel value of our fisheries.
The Bristol Bay fleet has dramatically improved quality and handling practices in recent years, thanks in part to funding and support from the BBRSDA.
“Increased quality at the point of harvest improves quality throughout the supply chain,” says Decker. “This allows higher-quality value-added products, which is truly something to promote and celebrate.”
AFDF sponsors from the last competition include the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Lineage Logistics, Trident Seafoods, Marine Stewardship Council, Northwest Fisheries Association, Alaska Air Cargo, At-Sea Processors Association and the United Fishermen of Alaska.