Pink salmon burger promotions and a plan to send Native-style smoked salmon to China for consumption by schoolchildren are among the proposals the state has received for its Alaska Salmon Marketing Grant Program.
The state plans to award about $10 million in marketing matching funds for private companies. The program is part of Gov. Frank Murkowski's $50 million salmon-industry revitalization strategy, which has included aid for individual fishermen, aid for struggling communities, and economic-development grants.
The state received 111 grants requesting more than $20 million, said Glenn Haight, fisheries development specialist with the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Grants will be awarded in three categories. The Major Grant Program is directed at larger companies, does not carry a funding limit, and requires a 50 percent match. Mini Grant Program awards, which will focus on mid-sized companies, will range up to $200,000 and require a match of one-third. Smaller companies were eligible for the Micro Grant Program, which limits awards to $25,000 and carries a 25 percent matching requirement.
Seattle-based Trident Seafoods submitted nine grant requests totaling more than $2 million. Most of the proposals have to do with promoting the company's pink-salmon burger, said marketing director John Salle.
Trident requested more than $1 million for promoting its salmon burger at Costco, which already carries the product in the southwestern United States and has plans to distribute it in the Northwest. Trident also proposed a salmon-burger promotion at Joey's Only, a Canada-based seafood restaurant franchise.
"The (program) is very helpful for us," Salle said. "The Costco promotion in particular we wouldn't be able to afford on our own."
Kake Foods teamed up with Tlingit and Haida Central Council and Raven's Table, a Yakutat smokery, in its request for $56,000 to market smoked salmon in China.
Don Bremner, a Central Council staff assistant, said a Chinese seafood company approached Central Council staff and expressed interest in importing Native-style smoked salmon for distribution to Chinese schoolchildren. The partners intend to start distributing smoked salmon strips and nuggets in Shanghai in hopes of expanding to other provinces, Bremner said.
Haight said the applications will be reviewed by a committee made up of staff from DCED, the Department of Labor and the Department of Fish and Game. He said the committee hopes to announce grant awards by Christmas and finalize agreements by February or March.