In the last part
of the 1990s, worldwide farmed salmon production exceeded wild caught
salmon production. As farmed salmon production and market reach continue
to grow, Alaska salmon becomes more of a niche product in the minds
of consumers. If Alaska salmon producers are content to compete with
farmed salmon products along a conventional commodity basis - meaning
not differentiating between the two products - they will continue to
be subject to swings in price caused by fluctuations in farmed salmon
supply. Choosing to compete against farmed salmon without adequately
differentiating the wild salmon product may also prove unprofitable
in the long-term.
There are a number
of ways Alaska salmon producers may and have already differentiated
their products. Many of the brands use concepts such as "wild" and "natural." Less
utilized, but effective nonetheless, is marketing based on the gear
type used to harvest the product. Knowledgeable markets generally recognize
these concepts. However, these markets also recognize that Alaska salmon
often comes with inconsistent quality. Given the sheer volume of high
quality, value added farmed salmon hitting the consumers, salmon from
Alaska must begin to accent all the qualities that make it special.
One particular strategy gaining momentum is regional marketing.
This web site provides
a few examples of regional marketing which may assist Alaska seafood
producers considering such a marketing strategy. Please contact the
Office of Fisheries Development if you would like further information
is Niche Marketing? By
clicking this link, you will be leaving State of Alaska webpages.
is Regional Marketing?
Pitfalls from Regional Marketing
25 Minute Video, by Commerce
is regional marketing? Back
Recognition and use
of regional marketing is nothing new. As a means to strengthen economies
in rural areas, the European Union identified regional marketing as
an important component. With its aggressive promotional campaigns as
a region that makes excellent wine, the California Napa Valley wine
industry has become a household name. In Alaska, we know from the success
of Copper River salmon, that consumers will identify salmon products
An Alaska regional
marketing program for salmon is defined as one that emphasizes the
unique nature of the area where the fish are harvested. Programs might
build brand recognition around the pristine waters that are isolated
from human impact. There may be discussions of the pure mountain streams
surrounded by lush rain forests that feed the salmon during earlier
years. Programs might also capture the cultural heritage of those that
harvest the salmon and work to bring you the product.
In establishing a
policy on regional marketing, the European Union's Committee of the
enables a link to be forged between the product and a region's landscape
and culture; also, where appropriate, between the product and certain
practices or services in the environmental or animal protection spheres.
Secondly, protecting them sometimes means that a culinary heritage,
contributing to regional identity, can be preserved. Lastly, encouraging
a partnership approach to local products can, through synergies,
have a highly positive impact on their promotion. Encouraging initiatives
by those involved, as well as the creation of general conditions
likely to help them succeed, should be the preferred form of action
here: other Union policies provide measures to offset disadvantages
in the less-developed regions." Opinion
of the Committee of the Regions of 18 September 1996 on Promoting
and Protecting Local Products - A Trump-Card for the Regions, Committee
of the Regions, European Union, Brussels, September 1996.
Marketing Efforts in Alaska Back
The success of Copper
River salmon in the marketplace is a testament to the potential for
regional niche marketing in Alaska. The Copper River Fishermens
Coop, currently inactive, established a brand name for the regions
fish in the 1980s and began to focus on quality fish handling.
The rich flesh of the local salmon and the early timing of the runs
facilitated the development of a strong niche market. More recently,
the Copper River Salmon Producers
Association applied for a Copper River certification mark from
the U.S. Patent and Trade Office to officially brand their product.
They continue to lead the promotion of quality standards for fishermen,
tenders and processors in Alaska. Cordova
District Fishermen United (CDFU) a Cordova fishing organization
representing processors and harvesters, facilitates the general marketing
efforts for region participants.
In 1996, the Alaska
Fisheries Development Foundation launched a project to market
value-added western Alaska chum salmon products under the brand name “Arctic
After three years of marketing and serving salmon at trade shows, Arctic Keta
and sales continued to increase in 2000 despite persistent low salmon returns
Yukon-Kuskokwim region. After falling into disuse for several years, the Bering
Sea Fishermen’s Association began reviving the brand in 2004 with Kotzebue
and other western Alaska chum.
The Kenai Peninsula
Borough created a marketing program for Cook Inlet salmon in 2002 under
the Kenai Wild brand. The program focuses on production
and marketing of high quality sockeye fillets for high-end niche markets
in the US. Today the project is managed by Cook
Inlet Salmon Brand, Inc.
Regional branding efforts are also underway in Kodiak, the Aleutian Islands/Alaska
Peninsula, Bristol Bay, Southeast, and the Yukon River. Regional
Marketing Organizations List.
Pitfalls from Regional Marketing Back
Suffice to say that
a number of potential pitfalls exist that may prove detrimental to
the Alaska salmon industry in general with numerous regional marketing
efforts in existence. This page is provided to encourage producers
who utilize regional marketing programs to be informed of concerns
and actively engaged in efforts that will reduce or eliminate these
Alaska salmon Back
Alaska salmon producers
are concerned that one regional marketing program will seek to differentiate
its products by unfavorably comparing them against other Alaska salmon
products. It is agreed that this might lead to a diminished value for
some salmon and possible consumer confusion in general. To eliminate
this possibility, regional marketers are asked to:
in their promotions,
statements regarding other Alaska salmon, and
examples, if used at all, to salmon and other livestock options
produced outside of Alaska.
among all efforts Back
It can be expected
that some form of communication will be necessary if there are several
independent regional marketing programs. Funding for all regional marketing
programs will be scarce. This will create competition between the programs
for limited funds. Regional marketers may pursue the same markets,
which may be unable to support the volumes each region is capable of
producing. It may be helpful for regions to coordinate with each other
about where they intend to market their products. Other adverse effects
from poor coordination may necessitate the establishment of a formal
means of communication.
a similar region Back
The Alaska salmon
industry is known for being tremendously competitive. Not only do processors
compete heavily with each other, but fishermen are at odds with processors,
fishing gear types often compete within a region, and even similar
gear types fight over fish within their regions.
There is a belief
within regional marketing that participants must maintain an air of
neutrality and teamwork when operating within a successful regional
marketing program. Quality is a huge component of successful branding
and if one sector of the industry fails to meet their responsibilities,
it is damaging for all. It may also be ill advised for two distinct
marketing efforts to exist within the same region. This could cause
consumer confusion leading to diminished sales for all parties. When
developing its regional marketing grant program, the Office of Fisheries
Development required branding rights to be available to all producers
within a defined region, as long as agreed upon standards developed
with input by all were strictly followed.
market development Back
Any branding effort
takes time, particularly if money is limited to fund the efforts. This
will be the case with Alaska salmon. Anyone interested in establishing
a regional marketing program should have adequate funding and be patient
in realizing the benefits of a branded product.