Lower supplies of wild salmon by global producers are pushing up post-season prices as the bulk of the biggest sales are made. About 75% of the value of Alaska’s salmon exports is driven by sales between July and October.

In the global commodities market, catches of wild Pacific salmon by the biggest producers are way down across the board.

For sockeye salmon, market tracker Tradex reports that frozen fillets are in high demand and supplies are hard to source for all sizes. With a catch topping 45 million, Alaska is the leading producer.

“Luckily, sockeye harvests were once again abundant in Bristol Bay as fishermen caught nearly 200 million pounds. Although that’s a bigger than average harvest for Bristol Bay, it’s still down 9% from last year. With lower sockeye harvests in Russia and closures in Canada, we estimate the global sockeye harvest declined by 26% in 2020.”

Andy Wink is director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association speaking on the Tradex Three-Minute Market Report. It says that sockeye prices are “significantly higher than last year” and suggests that suppliers are stockpiling inventories in their freezers.

Tradex correspondent Tasha Cadence –

“Our recommendation for Sockeye buyers is similar to a few weeks ago – which is to secure your supply now.  Sockeye prices are anticipated to make a good bull-run before moving into a bear-type market.”

Tradex predicts the same for wild chum salmon due to low catches from all producers.

“In speaking to our VP of Asia Operations, he advised they are anticipating that new season chum won’t be available until the end of September and that salmon will certainly be very short this year. Both from Russia and Alaska, where Alaska fish will be shorter, and the estimated raw materials price will go up to $4300 per metric ton – which translates to about $1.95 to $2.00/lb.”

The situation is similar for wild pink salmon due to lower catches.

Prices for pinks that provide the raw material for salmon patties, nuggets and other items processed in China and distributed back to the U.S. and other countries have increased from $2,600 to $3,400 per metric ton – or from $1.20  to $1.55 per pound.

A weakening dollar also means foreign customers can buy more US seafood for less. Those are encouraging signs as bigger trade hurdles remain.

Garrett Evridge is a McDowell Group fisheries economist-

“So while that issue where there’s the weakening dollars is a positive for us and it’s important to focus on some of these bright spots, there still is an imbalance there with Russia that makes them more competitive, and not to mention the ongoing trade war with China.” 

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