Retailers across the U.S., including Rouses Markets, are in the swim with stronger sales of Alaska sockeye salmon, thanks to higher product quality coupled with innovative marketing tactics rolled out in the past year by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), Sitka, Alaska.
The Bristol Bay fleet has focused on chilling practices in recent years, with the 2018 commercial sockeye salmon harvest producing a record volume of chilled fish, per BBRSDA.
According to a post-season survey, processors in the Bristol Bay region reported chilled deliveries totaling 151.6 million pounds, which represents 86% of sockeye salmon delivered by drift fishermen. This highlights a dramatic increase in recent years, up from 76% in 2017, and just 16% in 2008.
“The Bristol Bay fleet’s continued effort to educate and incentivize best practices in post-harvest handling has seen a significant increase in overall quality in recent years," said BBRSDA President Andy Wink in a statement. “Properly chilled fish bring a higher price to the fishermen and at the seafood counter, and processors have established an expectation of quality and a reputation for delivering premium salmon to their retail partners nationwide."
Photograph courtesy of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA)
While quality standards continue to rise, the Bristol Bay fleet’s self-funded marketing arm, the BBRSDA, has developed a nationwide marketing effort that includes partnerships with retail chains to increase sales of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.
Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses has been among the retailers that have seen impressive growth with the agency’s elevated quality platform. The 62-store grocery chain, which is renowned for its year-round strong seafood sales, posted a whopping 340% year-over-year increase of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon over the course of its 2018 summertime seasonal promotions.
“We’re making it easier and more affordable for customers to choose wild and sustainable seafood, like Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, which in my experience, is one of the best fisheries out there,” said Rouses’ Seafood Director Denise Englade.
“This promotion was a huge success at our seafood counters,” she said. “Our stores saw a 240% increase in sales volume, and a 340% revenue increase over the previous season’s sales.”