Dried kelp from Kodiak is poised to be the first Alaska seaweed to make a splash at hundreds of retail stores across the U.S. The strips of ribbon and sugar kelp can be rehydrated and tossed in salads, rice or broths.
It’s the debut product for Kodiak kelp growers in their partnership with Blue Evolution, the California-based company has pioneered the kelp industry in Alaska. The new product’s snazzy, biodegradable packaging promotes the nutritional power and purity of Alaska kelp and support for local, family owned farms. Founder and CEO Beau Perry says of all Alaska regions, Kodiak fits the bill –
“Geography, currents, growing space, local stakeholder attitudes, the fleet, logistics capacity. And we wanted the ability to be accessible to processing for fresh delivery of raw material. And Kodiak ended up ranking the best despite being it very remote even by Alaska standards.”
Perry says drying kelp is a challenge in Alaska because large volumes are landed in a short period of time. Kodiak growers will expand from 40 acres to 100 acres this year with more in the works. The bulk of the pack is going into a completely new product –.
“I would say well over 90% of our product is going into a blanched frozen product that you may not see on the shelves, but that we’re starting to move to high end restaurants food service and manufacturing down in the Lower 48.”
Perry says Alaska’s fledgling kelp industry faces a lot of organizational challenges in the short term. But he believes the possibilities are endless.
“ I think Alaska can be one of the great seaweed producing regions on the planet. And that will have a transformative effect within the state. So that’s the vision we’re pursuing. And I’m sure we won’t be alone in that, but we definitely have put ourselves in a leadership position and we want to spread that vision and build a business around it. Because if we do that right, it could be a very big deal indeed.”