A group of seven women seafood buyers from Europe traveled to Dutch Harbor last week to experience firsthand Alaska’s industry in action. Combined, they represent $2.5 billion in annual seafood sales.

“The whole point is to show off Alaska and our seafood and build relationships between these buyers and the seafood industry. This trip was really special because it was all women that they were all there as buyers and they could talk to one another about their shared experiences and also that they had made this trek out to Dutch Harbor to this bustling seafood hub.”  

Alice Ottoson-McKeen is assistant international program coordinator at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which hosted the trip.

The women spent four days in Dutch at the business time of year when  pollock and cod seasons are in full swing. The group toured Unisea and Westward processing plants and spent time aboard fishing boats.

“People were very in awe of the landscape in DH. It’s obviously unlike almost anywhere else in the world. No trees, little mountains, seeing the islands in front of you.

“And touring the boats – they were really impressed with how hard fishermen and processors worked. We toured a couple boats and there was so much pride from the captains and crew in their job and in their boat and that was something people were really impressed with.  They could  see that the people working in this industry really love it.”

The group spent an extra day in Dutch Harbor due to weather. That gave them a chance to mix with fishermen and others in a less formal way. Ultimately, the trip enlightened the buyers even more about Alaska seafood.

“A lot of them already are buying Alaska seafood but that they buy more or try a new product or they really feel like when they’re buying Alaska seafood they are getting a really high quality product from an industry that cares about quality and sustainability and cares about the purity of the water – giving them a whole overview of the industry and what is important to the industry so they feel really good about buying our Alaska seafood.”

Ottoson-McKeen says the women went home impressed by all they experienced.   

“We definitely did feel like we were creating some wonderful Alaska seafood ambassadors.”

They already are planning to meet up at upcoming seafood trade shows and events around the world.