FV Northwestern on Northwestern Brand King Crab

I guess the start of the crab season made it a tough time for the Northwestern boys to respond to questions on the “Northwestern Brand King Crab” that’s been showing up at Walmart. I’ve already posted twice on this issue, and this will be the last time, as my initial point still stands: it’s brilliant marketing to use reality TV to create a brand awareness where none existed before.

As to the fact that the King Crab being sold under their brand is Russion Crab, I believe they address it well in this press release posted on their forum yesterday :

Northwestern endorsed king crab!

Seattle, November 12, 2007: As we do every year at this time, the Hansen brothers are out on the Bering Sea fishing Alaskan king crab. Our fishing grind has kept us plenty busy, and we were not on the beach to announce the arrival of Northwestern endorsed king crab! We’re excited to hear the product has hit shelves ahead of schedule, since it has been a goal of ours since 1996. Unfortunately, questions have been raised about our loyalty to the Alaskan fishing fleet that two generations of our family have helped build. While we are disappointed to hear this, we look at it as an opportunity to explain why we think this is a great moment for us, and for the rest of the fleet. We believe so strongly in this endorsement that we have put our family name and the image of the Northwestern on the box.

King crab has become part of a global economy, and the fact is that fifty to seventy percent of Alaskan crab is sold directly to the Japanese market place. Our fleet is only allowed to fish once a year for a short season, and we are regulated by a quota system. There is only so much this region can produce and we can’t hope to supply nearly enough to satisfy a growing domestic and world market. As a result, the lion’s share of king crab available in our grocery stores is foreign product. If you look at the box that carries our name, you will see that it specifies Russian or American king crab. And that is what we are supporting king crab. We’re proud to say that all of the catch the Northwestern brings in will be sold on the American market, but some product on which our name appears comes from the foreign surplus that makes up all but thirty percent of the U.S. king crab market.
We believe that our decision to endorse king crab is beneficial to our fleet, not detrimental. The price of crab in this country is dictated by the price of foreign product. The overseas surplus that exists determines our value before the season even begins, and the more demand there is to offset supply, the more money our hard earned harvest is worth. Simply put, if there is excess crab on the market, our price stays stagnant. We have consulted experts who crunched the numbers and determined that we have a unique opportunity. By using the exposure we’ve been lucky enough to have, and popularizing king crab throughout the world, hopefully we can boost demand for the product and increase the price fishermen receive here in Alaska! In fact, our product has already gone up by sixty cents, proving the theory. This has been the driving force behind our decision to move forward with our endorsement of king crab.

We believe that everyone from the northwest to the southeast should be able to experience the taste of high quality king crab at a price they can afford, and the product we’ve put our name on provides that opportunity. Of course, like any fishermen, we hope to benefit from this endorsement. We are confident that what is good for our families will ultimately create opportunities for all the boats in our fleet. In addition, some proceeds are going to the Alaska Fisherman’s Memorial and other organizations to help support American fisheries.

Our intent is not to harm Alaskan crab business. Our heritage lies here, our blood sweat and tears are here, our future is here and we’ve fought for the fishery here. Someday when we look back at our legacy we’d like the same honor and respect shown to our father who was a pioneer in this fishery. We hope that by standing behind king crab we can make our mark, and help raise the value of our precious resource for ourselves, our fishing community, and the millions of people who enjoy it.

Respectfully, Sig, Norman and Edgar Hansen.

That’s how you address an issue, folks. 50 to 70% of the catch is sold overseas, and they’re pledging to sell their entire catch in the US. Matter resolved…

2 Replies to “FV Northwestern on Northwestern Brand King Crab”

  1. I think that you are missing a few key points here.

    One is just the fact that the crab sold at Walmart is completely misleading because it is selling people on the idea that they are eating crab from the Northwestern. When in reality the crab is most likely from unregulated fisheries in Russia.

    I also think that you are too easy on the Northwestern by simply accepting their press release as the whole story. Obviously, they are out to make a quick buck off of their fame from the Deadliest Catch. The Russians are also out to make quick cash by flooding the market with their poached crab. The reason we have strict regulations in the U.S. is because we have realized the profound ecological effects of over-fishing. Supporting over-fishing in Russian waters will likely lead to effects worldwide. We run into problems when we think too much about making money in the present without thought to the broader social, economic and environmental consequences

    I encourage you to read this article from the Alaska Report for a more balanced view on the issue.

  2. I’m sure Sig’s PR person came up with that well crafted excuse that is complete nonsense. The goal is to start pushing more Alaskan crab into the U.S. and squeezing out the Russian crab. A great way to do that is to market the Alaskan crab in a Northwestern box. And surely people will pay more then a measly 10 bucks a pound for that.

    I’m a crab fisherman, I know all those guys personally. Sig Has crossed the line this time. It’s a deplorable act of greed and will only damage the reputation of the dignity of Alaskan crabbers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.