Russian bans on seafoodFish Radio
Russian ban on AK seafood
August 13, 2014                        

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Russia’s ban on food imports is a big hit to Alaska seafood. More after this –

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Russia last week banned imports of food for one year from the US, Canada, Europe, Norway and Australia due to sanctions they imposed due to its aggressive actions in Ukraine. That makes for a direct hit to Alaska seafood which last year exported nearly 20 million pounds of seafood to Russia, valued at more than $60 million.


The primary they import is Alaska salmon roe and it’s also a growing market for Alaska pollock surimi. 2


Alexa Tonkovich is International Program Director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The biggest impact, she says, will be on salmon roe.


First would be for salmon roe. 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. 5

Secondly, bans on Norwegian salmon means that fish has to find a home elsewhere.

Norway exports about $1.1 billion to Russia annually. So if that product can’t go into the Russian market it has to find a home somewhere else. And that is either the EU, the US or possibly China or Brazil and that impacts pricing for salmon overall. 7


For Alaska pollock surimi, Tonkovich says exports to Russia last year were over $8 million and that market is more diverse.  


There’s good market s in Japan and Europe and we see potential in Brazil for surimi products so I think that may a bit easier to absorb. The salmon roe is a pretty significant volume, like I saie our second biggest market for thath product so I see a greater impact for salmon than for pollock. 15


Exports of frozen pink salmon to Russia jumped from next to nothing last year to over $3 million this year. Tonkovich says due to the political climate in the region, ASMI”s international team was already planning to open up new markets and expand others for salmon roe. Tonkovich says at this point, uncertainty rules the day.


There is a bit of stress in the seafood industry right now, obviously, but it is really hard to know how it will play out over time. 10


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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.