Fish Radio

Salmon supplies down, global prices increase

May 12, 2016

British Columbia breaks farmed salmon export records; US #1 customer Credit:

British Columbia breaks farmed salmon export records; US #1 customer

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Lower salmon supplies boost global prices. I’ll tell you more after this –

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Cooke Aquaculture of Canada, the new owner of Icicle Seafoods, told Undercurrent News that  wild salmon prices are likely to increase along with farmed salmon.  The reason?  The basics of supply and demand.

  So the starting point if you want to see what’s happening with fish prices look at supply and demand. But lots of things are always going on with supply and demand which makes it complicated.  So if you want to know what’s going on with supply you have to look at how much was produced in Alaska and how much our competitors produce.

Gunnar Knapp is a fisheries economist and director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska/Anchorage.

Here are some supply and demand indicators:   Alaska’s projected salmon catch this year of 161 million fish year is a 40 percent decrease, due to an off year for pinks.   The backlog of sockeye salmon has gotten a break from brisk sales all year at retail. And a failure of Japan’s wild and farmed salmon fisheries has spawned a surge of sockeye demand there.  Alaska sockeye exports to Japan at the end of 2015 were up 320 percent over the previous year.  Market watchers say they expect sales to remain ‘substantially’ higher as holdings clear out prior to the new fishing season.

Salmon fisheries along the West Coast will be at a fraction of their former selves this year. Russia’s wild catches also are expected to be down.

The biggest salmon supply shortfall stems from the loss of tens of millions of Chilean farmed salmon from a toxic algae bloom.  That has sent prices skyrocketing in Japan, which buys 80 percent of Chile’s coho production.  Wholesale prices last month ranged from $3.10-$3.35 per pound, up 20 percent from the same time last year.  The U.S. is Chile’s biggest farmed salmon customer.   Some of the shortfall will be made up by Norway which is battling its own fish losses fish losses caused from salmon lice.

British Columbia has wasted no time filling some of the farmed salmon void, especially in the U.S.

BC set a record for farmed salmon exports last year and is on track to do even better this year due to sales growth in China.  The US is British Columbia’s biggest farmed salmon customer – taking   a record 115 million pounds last year valued at over $400 million.

We’ll look next at how global currencies are coming into play.  Alaska’s salmon season officially gets underway on Monday, May 16, at Copper River.


Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture.    In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.