Fish Radio

Salmon market down more than 20% for sockeyes

September 1, 2015

Sockeye Pie Chart Credit: Nature Conservancy

Sockeye Pie Chart
Credit: Nature Conservancy

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch  — It’s being called a ‘perfect storm’ for the sockeye market. More after this –

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Sales info for sockeye salmon is finally surfacing and the situation is bleak.  Wholesale prices for Alaska’s big money fish are down 20-25% on average across all markets.

A report by Undercurrent News calls it “a perfect storm” of rough market conditions. There’s a big supply of sockeye, the overall weight of the pack is puny – and the biggest driver: global currencies.

Overall the dollar is up anywhere from 11-45 percent or more versus the currencies of our buyers. And that makes it really difficult to maintain pricing because those buyers have to pay a higher price.  

Andy Wink is a Fisheries Economist with the McDowell Group in Juneau. Exports typically account for 60-70 percent of Alaska’s seafood exports. Last week the Euro was priced at $1.14, down from $1.32 the same time last year. And the Japanese Yen was at 84 cents, down from 96 cents.

So it gives you a sense of the dramatic shifts we’re seeing in the currency markets and it has thrown such a change into the different supply relationships and the normal price range. It’s been difficult.     

An abundance of small sockeye salmon also is a market drag.  Fully half of the Bristol Bay fish weighed in at just over five pounds.

Larger reds over six pounds were just 4-5 percent of the Bay pack this summer. Those are most in demand because they yield higher profit margins.  Undercurrent reports the large fish are wholesaling at $4.50-$4.75 a pound, down 16% from last year.

Mid-sized four to six pounders are selling at $3 a pound, down 15.5% from the $3.50 to $3.60  last year. And the smallest sockeyes have bottomed out, wholesaling at $2.25 a pound.

Another downward press on salmon prices is coming from farmed fish. Seafood.com reports that imports of fresh farmed Atlantic salmon to the US reached record monthly volumes for the first half of 2015.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch .

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