Market Report

September 16, 2014

SALMON/TROUT

Global salmon markets are showing stability, likely to continue through October. All bets are off as we head into the late fall and winter season. Chilean production remains steady with limited demand. Production levels in Chile are not expected to increase, and as the Alaska wild season winds down, demand for farmed will soar, raising prices. Other regions expect similar results. The Scottish market is weak as global projections indicate excess production relative to demand. Changes will occur late October/November with a sharp price increase. The only barrier to this projection is any change with existing trade barriers to Russia. Norway, the world’s largest salmon producer, expects similar results. Demand for premium Euro salmon is not soft in our region, serviced with direct shipments from our Scottish and Norwegian farms. Our expert salmon craftsmen specially cut fillets to your exact specification.

The wild season has seen record catch and quality this year. Predicted catch of 132 million fish this season has been shattered with over 145 million salmon harvested to date and still counting. A late sockeye run produced excellent reds, and volume lowered prices to very affordable levels. Our retailers took great advantage, offering ads and weekend specials. Coho harvest continues through mid- to late October. Warmer weather in the Northwest has slowed coho catch, but good numbers are expected through the balance of the season. Troll kings have slowed to a precious few, but the Columbia River run is unabated. .Net kings do not cut quite as smoothly as trolls, but savvy chefs and retailers realize all wild fish have various characteristics.

As the wild season diminishes, opportunity increases for our premium craft-raised Skuna Bay salmon. Raised in the pristine, remote corners of Nootka Sound in Canada, only the finest specimens make the grade. Fish are graded for firmness, clarity of eyes, redness of gills, and scale loss, among other factors. Numbers are good and fish are healthy, and no interruption in production is expected. If Skuna salmon is not part of your winter menu plans, contact our Seattle Fish Company salmon experts to set you up with your first box of Skuna, expertly packed in specially designed thermal boxes.

Farm-raised trout production is nearing full capacity, and we expect no glitches as the weather cools. Red trout is still somewhat limited, but numbers increase weekly, so the woes of late summer will not be a problem. We offer the trout products in both red and rainbow flavors the way you want to serve: head-on dressed, head-on boned, butterflied pin-bone-out head-off fillets, or single-lobe fillets. Trout, a Colorado favorite, affordable and easy to prepare, should find a home on every menu and in every retail case.

CATFISH

Weather has cooled, fish are voraciously feeding, getting fatter, and production is in full swing. Look for great ad prices in your favorite retail stores this fall. Chefs love the versatility of U.S. farmed catfish, not to mention being easy on the bottom-line numbers. Our catfish supplier is the only BAP-certified catfish company in the U.S., feted for their best practices, raising a healthy, clean, truly sustainably raised fish.

WEST COAST

Fifty-four days are remaining for the 2014 Alaska halibut season. Eighty-five percent of the total allowable catch has been landed. We expect no change in the current pricing levels. Many areas have seen quotas almost filled, but fishing from Adak, Alaska, has been good and we should see adequate supply the balance of the season. The only drawback from this remote fishing area of the lower Aleutians is the nasty weather. Our expected off-load from the F/V Larisa had to be diverted to Sitka because of excessive winds in Adak. The Home of the Winds is certainly living up to its name. Cod boats are once again supplying quantity enough to offer retail ads. Rock cod, shallow water dover sole, perch, and arrow tooth flounder fill out the ground fish menu. Sable fishing has been limited, predicated mostly on good weather conditions. Farther south, the California troll king fishery has ground to a halt. This season has been one of the best in recent memory, with weekly supply of large kings from Bodega Bay and San Jose. Fresh fish from the Baja supplying yellowtail jack, bay scallops, California white sea bass, and grouper, among other species, is virtually nonexistent, with hurricane force winds sweeping the area. Pongas and larger boats look to get out to sea soon, hoping to fill the fresh supply chain. Mexico is gearing for another wild shrimp season. The Mexican bays supplying farmed shrimp opened early, and we will have first catch in-house shortly. Seattle Fish Company is committed to sustainability of the Mexican wild shrimp fishery and continues to be involved in an FIP (fishery improvement project) in the region. Improvements include, but are not limited to, helping force the Mexican government to require proper trawl gear on all boats and all netting be equipped with TEDs (turtle excluder devices) and by-catch escapement devices. Additionally, we are asking boats continue to upgrade trawl gear to newer, lighter, less invasive trawl door gear. Shrimp fishermen are required to adhere to dedicated “no-take” zones including five miles of rivers’ mouth of selected lagoons. Arguably Mexican shrimp is the finest in the world, and sustaining the fishery will ensure enjoyment of future generations. These morsels will not come without cost, as opening prices are expected to be firm. Globally, shrimp news continues to occupy fish news headlines. Domestic shrimp pricing has reached historic proportions and hopefully experienced price plateau. The gulf season, underwhelming at best, is expected to improve. Tiger shrimp production is still declining as India, a once-big tiger producer, has switched almost exclusively to whites, leaving Indonesia and Vietnam as the two primary sources for tigers. Large sizes will be very expensive, as farmers insist on pulling shrimp from ponds early to avoid disease.

EAST COAST

East Coast scallop prices remain stable, due primarily to softer demand this time of year. As scallop needs ratchet, prices will follow. Days at sea continue to dwindle and supply is finite until the new season opens in March. The good news is quotas are expected to increase next year. Sole and cod face the most cuts this winter. Haddock prices remain reasonable against limited demand; same for large monk tails. The wild striped bass season is closed until early December. As fall progresses we anticipate the return of sweet, candy-like Nantucket Bay scallops.

Live lobsters remain reasonable but are still not to full hard-shell strength. Please handle with care as you receive in your kitchen doors. Prices should remain stable, spiking as the holiday season approaches. For larger orders please ask your Seattle Fish Company sales representative about our exclusive cloud-pack lobster boxes protecting your cargo until you are ready to prepare.

SHELLFISH

Summer is always challenging for oysters, but this year’s hot temperatures and increased demand have made selection even more difficult to source. Numerous regions on the west coast have been closed due to Vibrio, others as a precautionary measure. The unofficial re-opening date of these areas is October 1. Demand across the U.S. is soaring as most new restaurant openings feature an oyster bar, and existing establishments are adding oysters to their mix. If Denver is a barometer, oyster popularity is booming, which brings us to a featured oyster, Wellfleet oyster, hailing from Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Average size is 3-3.5 inches, available year-round. Flavor profile is a salt blast, crisp, and a distinctive seaweed finish. Flavor is influenced by full ocean salinity with excellent tidal exchange and influx of freshwater streams. The ocean bottom is clean, pebbled sand and nutrient-rich seaweed. Ask our shellfish experts for a bag on this venerable oyster favorite.

Clams are headlined by the always flavorful and consistent hard-shell clams from Dennis, Massachusetts, a lovely setting on the Cape. All quohogs, as hard shells are referred to, fall into four basic sizes, littlenecks, top necks, cherrystones, and chowders. We add another offering, pasta necks, a smaller littleneck. Sizing varies, but generally littlenecks are roughly 9-11 pc per lb, top necks 7-8 pc, cherrystones 5-6 pcs, and chowders tip the scale at 4 pc or less. Other clams on our menu include manila clams, getting stronger and excellent for pasta dishes, and specialty clams such as blood and chocolate clams.

GULF

Gulf tuna boats are coming back to port in Louisiana with regularity, showing adequate numbers. The catch has not been significantly affected by the gulf hurricane and tropical storm season, but there is still time – witness the current hurricane off the Western coast of Mexico. Swordfish, on the other hand, has been scarce, prices staying relatively firm against softer demand. Mahi numbers, while getting better, are still low. The Central American mahi season unofficially opens October 1. Guatemala has shown some early landings, as well as Costa Rica. The mahi season looks to be strong this year with favorable pricing. Our Eastern Gulf fishermen have recently supplied us with lionfish, porgy, tile bass, and amberjack. Ask your sales rep to forward our weekly specialty list, showing upcoming features in addition to in-house offerings.

Gulf Wild American red snapper is steady, all fish individually tagged showing the exact location of catch, name of boat, and boat captain, easily confirmed online at mygulfwild.com. Gulf Wild grouper, conversely, has been somewhat tight. Quotas and very hot weather in the southeast Florida waters have reduced supply. Excellent grouper supply should soon resume.

GREAT LAKES

Large walleye are finally taking the bait and supply has resumed. Unexpected hot summer temperatures slowed the fall season as fish remained in deep cooler waters. We are looking forward to good supply the balance of the fall season until the snow and ice prevail. Other lake fish, such as whitefish, pike, and some perch, fill the freshwater Great Lakes catch.

HAWAII

Hawaii is presently in a lull, with numbers on the Honolulu Auction soft. Tuna prices have been high for the premium 80-lb.-plus fish. Albacore has been almost nonexistent and the little showing is priced very high. Swordfish have migrated out of Hawaiian waters. The negative out of the way, the balance of fall should show better numbers and selection. Our auction buyers are poised daily with average pricing and availability, ready to ship when the parameters are met. Hawaiian Kampachi is still arriving weekly and sizing is very good, but shipping quantities are limited to avoid shortage during the holiday season. Prices have bumped up a bit, but you certainly get excellent quality for what you pay. Served seared rare or sashimi style, Hawaiian Kampachi is always a winner.

Please check out our website for the latest news and updates and seasonality guide for new menu ideas.

Regards,

Harry Mahlers

Harry Mahleres

Director of Purchasing
 
Harry@seattlefish.com

303.329.9595 ext. 121

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