Marketplace for CRS just keeps growing

Partnership brings Alaska seafood to Walmart, Sam’s Club stores nationwide

Individually sealed frozen portions of wild Alaska sockeye salmon ready for packaging into Sam’s Club private label bags. Photo by Margaret Bauman / The Cordova Times

From its onset 22 years ago, to protect the resources supporting fishing families in the Cordova area, Copper River Seafoods has expanded its markets nationwide, including the shelves of retail giant Walmart and its members only Sam’s Club.

And that goal has expanded to include great partnerships in marketing and “selling the best food in the world,” says Scott Blake, president and chief executive officer of the company. Today the company has some 200 employees, supports 1,000 fishing families statewide, and maintains a commitment to be true stewards of the resource critical to these families, he said.

“We do sell seafood, but we are a food manufacturer,” Blake said Jan. 8, during a news conference at Copper River Seafoods’ Anchorage processing plant called to spotlight the growth of the company’s business with Walmart and Sam’s Club.

The year-round purchase of fresh and frozen Alaska seafood by Walmart from Copper River Seafoods has created more than 100 year-round jobs in Anchorage and hundreds of seasonal jobs during Alaska’s fresh summer salmon season, while supporting Walmart’s 10-year commitment to buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs, according to Copper River Seafoods.

“Our customers have told us that second to price, where products are made influences their purchase decisions,” said Cindi Marsiglio, vice president of U.S. manufacturing for Walmart. “We are focused on buying great quality products that create jobs in communities across the U.S. It makes sense for our customers, our communities and our company.”

“Revitalizing U.S. manufacturing and actively supporting Made in America products is a mission we share with Walmart, and we’re thrilled to have Walmart visiting us to celebrate our manufacturing right here in Alaska,” Blake said. “We are proud to be an example of how manufacturers and retailers can work together and provide the high-quality American-harvested, sustainable, seafood products consumers look for when they shop.”

The variety of products manufactured for Walmart and Sam’s Club includes Sam’s Club private label Alaska sockeye and keta portions, Fisherman’s Favorites marinated salmon, a variety of frozen options including high quality frozen cod, salmon, halibut or rockfish, and a full line of smoked salmon products.

A line of Copper River Seafoods 12-ounce bags of seasoned frozen halibut, cod and salmon, plus jars and boxes of smoke salmon products are now carried in Walmart stores.  Sam’s Club stores nationwide offer fresh salmon, halibut and Pacific cod in season, while their club stores in Alaska offer fresh rockfish, salmon, halibut and cod.

Also available at Sam’s Club year-round are the Sam’s Club Member’s Mark & Copper River Seafoods co-branded frozen sockeye and keta salmon.

“This is a team effort,” said Billy Green, general manager of the processing facility. “It takes all of us to make this happen. This is a year-round job to feed our families. It requires full time production,” said Green, as he led a tour through the facility, where workers were cutting frozen sockeye fillets into portions, to be packed into the co-branded bags, weighed and sealed, then boxed for shipment.

By next summer, the company hopes to be doing fresh and frozen production at the same time, Green said.