Fledgling wild salmon product manufacturing company Alaska Spirit LLC, Kodiak, AK, with assistance from the University of Alaska Fisheries Industrial Technology Center pilot plant, has developed Kodiak SOLSTIX™ wild salmon jerky, vacuum-packed in multilayer film. Designed as "pocket protein" for hikers, climbers, other sports enthusiasts, and vending machine sales, the product currently is being marketed to several small regional retail outlets.
It's packaged in 0.7-oz (2" x 6" package dimensions), three-count jerky stick packs. Average retail price is $1.99 per package.
But a specially targeted demographic is American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The packages are highly portable, and enable the jerky to endure hot climates for approximately eight months without flavor deterioration or spoilage. Alaska Spirit donated the wild salmon jerky product, and the local Lions Club compiled the names of troops from Kodiak and shipped the packages to military service members.
Additive-free shelf life
As Alaska Spirit co-owner Rob Baer explains, "After learning that our local military men and women stationed overseas were requesting more protein sources, our company and the Kodiak Lion's Club joined forces to help out. Our Kodiak SOLSTIX salmon jerky will fill the need for protein and give the troops a little taste of home. With military distribution in mind, we are continuing to develop means and methods to extend the shelf life without using artificial additives or preservatives."
The rollstock film, supplied by Curwood Inc., a Bemis Company (www.curwood.com), is constructed of a 3.5-mil polyester/nylon/ethylene vinyl alcohol/polyethylene bottom (forming) layer and a five-color flexographically printed, 48-ga oriented PET/ink/adhesive/EVOH/EVA top layer.
In 2005, Alaska Spirit secured funding from the Alaska Fisheries Economic Development (AFED) Grant Program that helped the company purchase a used M-860 EPC rollstock form/fill/seal packaging machine manufactured by Multivac, Inc. (www.multivac.com). Alaska Spirit co-founders Rob Baer and Mark Witteveen (both fishery research biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game) then hired a Multivac equipment specialist to inspect the machine and undertake the necessary modifications, including installation of new dies, to meet the salmon jerky packaging specifications.
Direct mail packaging
Baer says, "In addition to the AFED grant, we were also successful in obtaining a grant from the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board. The grant was made to help us package and market high-quality Alaska wild salmon snacks. It also supported our direct mail marketing effort in which we use clear plastic 2-inch x 12-inch 'tubevelopes' with red end caps." This clear tube mail packaging is supplied by Visipak, a division of Sinclair & Rush, Inc. (www.visipak.com).
Summarizing the progression of the wild salmon jerky project, Baer reports, "We first developed the product in the pilot plant. For the last year or so, we have been operating in a sub-leased facility, utilizing our own equipment. As of April 2007, we are up and running in our own facility with processing and packaging capacity of 12,000 packages per day. Our business plan was to develop a single line first and focus all our energy on marketing one shelf-stable product, instead of doing a mediocre job on several product lines. We are getting some positive results."