Promotional efforts boost Bristol Bay fish sales

Fishermen-funded marketing and promotional efforts continue to boost retail sales of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, with 14 major retail chains participation in promotions nationwide as of 2019, according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.

Participating retails in 2019 ranged from Costco to Wegmans and showed an average boost of 34 percent in sales from participating retailers, the BBRSDA reported on Jan 8.

“We are really excited about the success of the retail marketing program so far,” said Andy Wink, executive director of the fishermen-funded group which represents the drift gillnet fleet in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. “We are helping Bristol Bay sockeye become a household name, which is long overdue considering it’s the most abundant wild salmon fishery on the planet. We’re looking to expand our program in 2020 with new retail partners and are really excited about taking promotions with existing partners to new heights.”

Commercial harvesters in the summer of 2019 delivered over 43 million sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay waters, to provide retailers with a year-round supply of sockeyes.

Promotional efforts included funding sales contests, digital advertising, in-store cooking demonstrations and allowing retailers an la carte style menu of options to tailor efforts to customers in their marketing area.

Seven major grocers have already committed to Bristol Bay sockeye salmon promotions in 2020, including Wegmans, Rosauers, Rouses, H-E-B, HyVee, Harris Teeter and ShopRite.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has forecast a Bristol Bay run of 48.95 million red salmon in 2020, which is 6 percent larger than the most recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay runs, with a harvest forecast of 34.56 million fish.