CHANGING STEREOTYPES ABOUT FLASH FROZEN AND WHY BUYING MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
“Many Americans hold onto the stereotype that fresh is always better than frozen when it comes to seafood. We have been working to show consumers why choosing frozen can be a better choice for quality- and for the environment”. — Linda Behnken, Alaskans Own
Why do we only sell frozen product at AO?
To reduce waste.
According to Ecotrust, an environmental organization based in Portland, “twenty-three percent of seafood at supermarkets never makes it the dinner plate and goes to waste”. Grocery stores must throw away "fresh" fish after a certain number of days if it has not been sold (rightly so, because fresh fish loses quality quickly!). However, frozen product can be stored for many months without any reduction in quality or freshness. Frozen product is also far less vulnerable to spoiling at the whim of shipping delays- where fresh product that is delayed by weather or other shipping problems often is thrown away or wasted.
To ensure quality & freshness.
The longer that a fish is out of water, the more that its meat degrades. When seafood is properly handled and frozen at a very low temperature, it is essentially "locked" in time- meaning that the freshness and quality are preserved.
To help fishermen.
The seafood market is volatile- with prices, variables, and demand constantly shifting. Being able to store and market frozen product over a range of time means that fishermen can choose to fish in good weather, can diversify into new species of fish, and can sell product outside of fishing season (when prices or demand might be higher).
To help consumers.
To help consumers. By offering frozen seafood, we can be confident that our fish is of high and consistent quality. We can also offer the fish at lower prices, ship the fish in bulk or via less carbon-intensive methods, and provide fish outside of the fishing season. Consumers can stock up on high quality, frozen fish for the entire winter if they'd like, and don't have to feel rushed to cook a product that will degrade or spoil quickly. Plus, according to a recent study (read on for more information), they get better fish!
Consumers taste tested flash-frozen seafood from Alaskans Own, Port Orford Seafood, and Real Good Fish and compared it to never-frozen, "fresh" fish from a local store. Consumers preferred the frozen product, which also proved to be higher quality when measured by the CQR device. We aren't just proud of the care with which our seafood is handled- we now have data that proves that our blast frozen seafood is higher quality than much of the "fresh" seafood that marketed across the US.
ALFA and community-based fishing partners at Port Orford Seafood and Real Good Fish worked with Ecotrust, Oregon State University, Seafood Analytics, and the Oregon Food Innovation Lab to compare consumer reactions to seafood in a blind taste test.
The study allowed consumers to compare “frozen” and “fresh” seafood. The study also utilized a new device, called the "CQR" (Certified Quality Reader) and created by a company called Seafood Analytics, that uses an electric current to measures freshness.
The results, according to Ecotrust, were telling; “not only did consumers prefer the frozen fish, but the flash-frozen products also rated higher in quality and freshness, as measured by the CQR”.
AO's parent organization, the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association, was recently awarded a major grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide support for consumer education on the environmental and quality benefits of purchasing frozen seafood, as well as to expand markets for and access to locally-caught seafood.
The competitive grant was awarded by USDA’s Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program, which works to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced foods, and to develop new market opportunities for food production operations serving local markets.
With the fresh vs. frozen study results in hand and support from USDA, ALFA has created a Flash Frozen Marketing Toolkit and Seafood Resource Manual to help seafood producers, processors, and sellers share information on the advantages of flash frozen seafood, helping to establish or diversify their businesses. ALFA also provides training to producers and fishermen on using the CQR tool to develop quality assurance programs.
CQR trainings are held at local businesses and gatherings such as fishermen's EXPOs. ALFA staff are available to provide private trainings for any businesses, direct marketers or interested individuals. Please contact 747-3400 for more information.
Ready to jump on board with flash-frozen seafood?
If you are interested in purchasing sustainably sourced, flash frozen seafood, please use our vendor distribution map to find a retailer, community supported fishery (CSF), or processing plant near you. Do you have suggestions for our map or would you like your business to be added to our map? Just shoot us an email or drop us a line!