Fish Radio

Pink salmon catch ranks second, market updates

September 3, 2015

Pink salmon roe

Pink salmon roe

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska’s pink haul is the second largest ever.   Plus, market updates after this –

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Alaska’s pink salmon haul is nearing 180 million, making it the second largest catch ever.  It’s been pushed by record production in three  regions – over 15 million pinks taken at the Alaska Peninsula, compared to under one million last year.  Kodiak’s record pink catch is nearing 29 million, triple last year’s take; and Prince William Sound’s harvest so far is a whopping 97 million humpies.

All that fish goes into a global market already plugged by pinks from Alaska’s all time record catch two years ago, and reeling from devalued currencies against the US dollar.

But the takeaway is just that we are in a very different place now than we were in 2013 going into that season. There’s challenges and opportunities with each situation but now we have a couple years of big supply –  2013 was a record statewide and this year is the second largest pink harvest on record, so we’ve had some big years backed up and that ripples through the supply chain and affects prices; and it doesn’t help that the currency markets have gone against us so badly during this time when our supply has goes up so dramatically.  

Andy Wink is a Senior Seafood Analyst with the McDowell Group.  Another big market hurt is caused by the ongoing seafood embargo by Russia – one of the biggest buyers of pink salmon roe.   The roe can add up to nearly half of the value of the entire pink salmon catch.

Alexa Tonkovich is International Program Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Other than Japan, Russia is our largest market for salmon roe. Japan takes about $125 million worth of salmon roe and Russian takes about $46 million. The next closest market is China at $20 million. And if you don’t have diversified markets for a product you’re in a less powerful negotiating position and that impacts pricing.  

Alaska sellers are trying hard to diversify the pink roe market. Andy Wink:

There is just not another market like Russia or Eastern Europe waiting out there with a strong currency to buy our pink roe. So that brings us back to Japan where the Yen is also very weak against the dollar. So we’re kinda back to square one with being pushed more into one market as opposed to having more channels available to sell product.  

Season totals for frozen and canned pinks are still unknown.  Wink says cases of cans are moving at lower prices and still piled up from two years ago.

There’s no doubt that we are still dealing with what happened in 2013 with a record harvest. That is still impacting the market today when it comes to canned product. That’s a big reason why we are in kind of a different world with wholesale and exvessel prices now as compared to two years ago.  

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at  – In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.