January 17, 2020

Wild Alaska Pollock Industry Leaders Meet with Senior U.S. Embassy Officials in China

BEIJING, CHINA—As part of a 10-day trade mission funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Emerging Markets Program, Wild Alaska Pollock industry leaders met with senior Foreign Agricultural Service Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Thursday, the Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) announced today. Trip participants from across the industry recapped for Agricultural Minister – Counselor Bobby Richey and other senior staff key learnings from the mission trip as well as discussed future opportunities for collaboration between the industry and FAS.

“We were honored to have concluded our trip with a visit to the U.S. Embassy to share with agricultural trade leadership the insights we gathered on the importance of this market to Wild Alaska Pollock,” said Craig Morris, Chief Executive Officer of GAPP. “Counselor Richey and his team spent significant time with our leaders discussing the changing Chinese consumer, seafood consumption and our desire to build more demand for Wild Alaska Pollock in the Chinese market, immediately.”

The meeting came less than 24 hours before the specifics of the U.S.-China trade deal were announced publicly and after nearly two weeks of productive meetings with Chinese seafood companies who are more than eager to use Wild Alaska Pollock products for domestic consumption. While FAS staff couldn’t provide specifics on whether the tariffs facing the industry would be resolved in this or future negotiations, they did provide meaningful suggestions for short-term solutions and noted a strong desire to partner with GAPP and the industry in raising awareness about Wild Alaska Pollock in China.

“In meeting after meeting this week we heard passionately from our customers their desire to source Wild Alaska Pollock because of its superior consistency and quality,” said Morris. “We have loyal, excited customers who want our help in growing demand for our fish here in China, and as we told FAS staff, we just have to help level the playing field for them to thrive.”

Throughout the trip, participants repeatedly heard from customers including Ding Wei Tai, China’s largest surimi seafood products producer, Beiyang Jiamei one of the largest seafood importers in China, as well as Weidao, one of the largest food suppliers to China’s Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry about their desire to source Wild Alaska Pollock because of its innumerable attributes and its story. Many conversations centered around how to ‘reintroduce’ the fish to Chinese consumers and build a bold brand for Wild Alaska Pollock throughout China.

“Our meetings this week confirmed that while many Chinese consumers grew up eating seafood, they are only looking to eat more in the coming years, especially with recent disease outbreaks significantly affecting the availability of other popular proteins,” said Morris. “The trends are with us in China and this trip has been instrumental in both building the relationships and understanding the market in order to develop a long-term in-country marketing strategy.”

The trip, which took eight industry leaders to Shanghai, Qingdao and Beijing over the course of ten days, provided significant knowledge of China’s changing demographics and consumer preferences, especially the rise in e-commerce. Representatives learned of significant market potential for Wild Alaska Pollock, including that China is the largest surimi seafood products market in the world, yet consumes just 1/10th per capita of the surimi that Korean and Japanese consumers do.

The eight industry leaders on the trip include Jeffrey Welbourn and William Maio, Trident Seafoods; Margery Schelling and Jostein Rortveit, American Seafoods; Jason Martin, Golden Alaska Seafoods; Jacob Christensen, Arctic Storm Holding Company; and Jeffery Kauffman, Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association. These leaders were nominated by the GAPP Board of Directors and leadership both for their experience and their position in various sectors of the Wild Alaska Pollock industry.

“It is hard to overstate the potential for our industry in China,” said Morris. “I know we are all leaving here full of knowledge but more importantly enthusiasm to raise awareness and demand for Wild Alaska Pollock in China. I’m excited to get home, roll up my sleeves and look to make headway in that market, today.”

For key insights from trip participants, be sure to read the GAPP blog.

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