Introducing young seafood buyers to Alaska seafood is the goal of a “Next Generation” Trade Mission hosted by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Eight under 40 visitors from Ukraine, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Mexico will start off in Seattle on Friday and then spend two full days next week in Kodiak.

“They’re touring four processing plants and we will hopefully get on a few boats. And then we’re going to be meeting with NOAA and ADF&G. And before coming to Kodiak, they’ll spend some time in Seattle where they’ll meet with Alaska seafood company representatives. The goal is to show them all parts of the Alaska seafood story from harvesting, processing, sustainable management, everything.”

Alice Ottoson-McKeen is an ASMI international marketing specialist.

“There’s really no better way to show off the wonders of Alaska than in person and for people to see it up close with their own eyes.”

 ASMI has strong relationships with buyers around the world who have been opting for Alaska seafood over other choices for decades, Ottoson-McKeen says. This mission aims to establish similar strong connections with the next generation of seafood buyers.

But why bring them to Alaska in the middle of winter?   

“Alaska fisheries are open year round, and just because it’s icy and it’s cold, that doesn’t mean that our fishermen aren’t out fishing. And so they get to see the winter weather and really understand the hard work that goes into bringing Alaska seafood to market and that we’re not just going out when it’s convenient, we’re going out when there’s fish in the water, no matter, the weather. And I think that really reinforces for people that Alaska seafood is wild, and it’s totally natural. And it also allows us to showcase products that we wouldn’t necessarily get to see in the summer.”

The Next Generation group follows a similar winter trade mission two years ago that brought 7 European women seafood buyers from around the world to Dutch Harbor.

 “Our goal when we bring these missions in is to showcase and impress upon people that Alaska seafood really is the things that we advertise in our taglines – it is wild, it’s natural, it’s sustainable. So we hope that the trip allows them to understand that and they go on from here to become lifelong Alaskan ambassadors and customers, and we can establish those strong relationships with them that carry on far into the future.”