A lack of large fish is keeping salmon prices strong creating a price premium for producers waiting to harvest. Weak demand has kept prices somewhat stable, but Mother’s Day needs has reversed the trend. There will be no repeat of last year, when prices started their steady decline through December, much to the delight of retailers across the country setting summer salmon ads. Start of the wild season should help mitigate a steep price hike for Atlantic salmon. SalmonChile, which controls the Chilean salmon industry, expressed confidence in ongoing viability in face of increasing evidence of ISA, infectious salmon anemia virus. Some producers do not exude the same assurance and predict production shortages. Somewhat isolated from the global salmon news is the Scottish salmon industry; salmon is the largest food export in Scotland with substantial overseas markets. In 2012, fresh Scottish salmon shipped to other countries totaled 78,000 metric tons, the second highest total ever. A healthy share of that catch arrives to our dock twice a week. Excellent in quality and value, Scottish salmon is a restaurant favorite. Ask your Seattle Fish Company sales rep for whole fish or fillets just the way you prefer. Skuna Bay craft premium farm-raised salmon from the icy waters of the Gold River near Vancouver Island continues to pop up on more menus—and why not? Always consistent, always perfectly sized, Skuna salmon comes to you specially packed in sealed tamper-proof boxes, individually signed by the farmer. If you prefer fillets, ask for the Gold River brand.
The 30th anniversary of the Copper River salmon phenomenon arrives Thursday with a 12-hour opener bringing first-of-the-season sockeyes and Copper Kings. Prior to 1983 very little fresh Copper salmon was brought to market, either canned or frozen. John Rowley, legend as a restaurant and marketing consultant in Seattle, helped bring the first kings to market 30 years ago. The key was proper temperature and handling, and a trial shipment of 400 lobs arrived to select restaurants in Seattle. Customers could immediately tell the difference and the rage was on. This was a tremendous marketing plan as Copper River not only exudes quality, but commands a bit higher price. Opening salvos will likely be richer than last year with a projected shortfall this season. The total Chinook run is forecast to be 46,000 fish, below the 14-year average of 76,000. If realized, the 2013 harvest would be the fifth smallest since 1980. Whatever the price, Copper River is worthy of a spot on your special menu or retail case. Seattle Fish Company will be your Copper River source, as usual.
Trout always plays second fiddle to salmon, but not because of quality and variety. Try some of the Columbia River steelhead, which tastes great and is easy on the pocketbook. Rainbow and red trout are also exceptional menu additions. We offer trout the way you like: head on dressed or boned, or filleted.
Catfish prices are on the rise. Lack of production industry-wide cannot keep up with current demand. That said, Seattle Fish Company is your catfish leader in the Rocky Mountain region. Even with an increase of few pennies, catfish on your menu or in your grocery case bring profit to your bottom seafood line.
The California King season opened May 1 with the buzzards coming out of the woodwork to bid up prices and take advantage of pent-up wild salmon demand for Mother’s Day. Post-holiday prices should ease this week, but remember catch is always at the mercy of Mother Nature. Fish have not been schooling and are scattered, which should change with water conditions. Bodega is said to look promising, so look for your next California King shipment midweek.
We are nearly a quarter through the 2013 halibut season. Prices have remained stable, affected only by shortages due to weather. As predicted, overall size of marketable halibut remains on the smaller side with 25-lb. and up fish a premium. The halibut biomass is strong, but quotas have been reduced this year to allow fish sizes to increase. We are pleased to introduce direct air shipments from Adak, Alaska. There are only two flights a week into this remote region at the tip of the Aleutian Islands chain. A new plant and icehouse on the island will ensure fresh catch flying to Denver. Good supply of rock cod, shallow-water dover sole, petrale, and sablefish round out the catch from the northern Pacific waters of Alaska and Canada. Japan has not gobbled up the majority of sablefish catch this year allowing prices to come down to reasonable levels. Frozen-at-sea j-cut sablefish is a premium fish; add to your menu today.
San Diego and the south Baja waters are yielding small corvina, yellowtail, and Mexican Bay scallops. New to our frozen stable will be a best alternative rated natural octopus arriving at our dock later this week. Catch methods and following sustainability guidelines add a little to the price tag, but it is well worth the additional cost. The Mexican shrimp season is virtually over until the late-September opener. Shrimp prices worldwide remain strong, but we may be approaching a plateau, except for large sizes. Early mortality syndrome (EMS) in the Asian shrimp region has resulted in losses triggering price increases, but a research team at the University of Arizona has discovered a bacterial agent causes the disease. Scientists believe further research will allow early detection of the EMS pathogen enabling better management of hatcheries and ponds, leading to a long-term solution. This is good news for producers, but production to pre-EMS levels could take awhile.
Live lobster prices continue to come down, but the fall has slowed. Mother Nature has snapped out of her icy grip coinciding with opening of the Canadian lobster season. Been out of the lobster game for a while due to high prices? Feel free to jump back in. The Canadian and Maine lobster fisheries are governed by numerous conservation methods allowing viability of the catch and a sustainable future.
Monk fillet has been a good value for some time, save for this weekend when demand outstripped supply, raising prices. Look for good value the balance of the week along with market cod fillets. Large dabs and hake are short, keeping cost up, but this is mitigated somewhat by soft demand.
Scallop fishing continues with most of the catch yielding smaller scallops. Premium U-10s will account for only 7% of the overall scallop catch forcing higher prices as demand increases into the summer. You may want to consider a smaller size for better scallop value. Ask your Seattle Fish Company scallop expert to help guide you through the size and price maze. A few striped bass are being caught in the mid-Atlantic region, but high prices are keeping them off our order guide for now. Ready for soft-shell crabs? This should be the week, much later than last year when we were at the height of the soft-shell season this time of May. Much colder weather and water temps have stunted shedders. We offer whales, jumbos, primes, and hotels, fresh or dressed. If weather cooperates, soft-shell crabs will be on your weekend menu.
Have you tried Bangs Island mussels yet? Ask your rep about this family-owned, hand-raised gem grown in the cold, clean waters of Casco Bay, Maine. A profound respect of the ocean creates ideal growing conditions. Bangs are plump, full of meat, rope-grown from rafts suspended off the ocean floor, allowing the mussels to feed in a nutrient-rich environment. Speaking of mussels, we offer a variety from Maine to the mussel capital of the world, Prince Edward Island. Mussels are good year-round, but special care must be taken this time of year as we head into the spawning season. Mussels love direct ice, but not water and ice, so when you receive them put the mussels in your cooler covered with ice and use proper drainage.
Oyster variety is currently adequate, but supply is showing signs of strain. Our Canadian stock of Shemogue and Fire River’s will be unavailable until next week allowing oystermen time to harvest and get reserves back up to snuff. Winter demand has been greater all along the Eastern Seaboard. Same story on the West Coast as grow out in some oyster regions lags. Coupled with the June spawn season, some of your favorite West Coast selections may be lacking. Our Seattle Fish Company shellfish pros will keep you abreast of the changing West Coast oyster tides. If ultimate is your wish, try our Kusshis from Deep Bay Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Kusshi, by the way, is the Japanese word for “ultimate.” This is a small oyster that is clean, delicate, and meaty. They are grown using a rack and tumble method, speeding growth and giving them a smooth shell. Kumamoto oysters come from the same region, by the way. Pre-order some Kusshis today for that special event.
Speaking of special, our hard-shell clams from Dennis, Massachusetts, are just that. We offer exact count bag in retail and foodservice packs including littlenecks, top necks, cherrystones, and pasta necks. Manila clams from the West Coast are still hearty, but as we move into the warmer months the number of inbound shipments will increase to lessen the quality issues.
Cool gulf waters, high winds, and tunas not schooling have made fishing conditions miserable. We are due for a change with better supply landing in the ports of Dulac, Louisiana. Quality should improve with greater selection, which in turn will lower prices; all good news. Mahi supply, on the other hand, is going the other direction and prices are increasing, normal for this time of year. A good substitute for mahi is the California yellowtail. Wahoo, yellowtail snappers, and swordfish numbers are adequate with stable pricing.
Gulf Wild grouper and snapper are steady. We have informed our fishermen that summer demand will be good. Efforts of the fisherman’s alliance in the gulf have enabled the reef fishery to rebound. Adherence to catch shares and tagging all their fish allows full transparency and reveals exact location each fish was caught. Ask for Gulf Wild grouper or snapper when you change your menu or add a special. On the farmed side is Open Blue Cobia, raised in deepwater ocean pens 8 miles off the coast of Panama far from the sensitive ecosystems of the Caribbean reefs. Open Blue Cobia is very high in omega-3 and is very versatile; it can be eaten raw as sashimi or ceviche, grilled, broiled, or pan-seared.
Walleye and whitefish are plentiful as the season is in full swing in the Great Lakes region. Freshwater walleye fillets are flakey and flavorful. Put it on your summer menu; it’s great for lunch or dinner. Steady supply should remain throughout the summer and fall.
Very high-quality tunas are $15-18 whole on the Hawaiian auction, bid up by eager Japanese buyers. Increased summer volume will bode well for direct shipments to Denver. By-catch, on the other hand, seems to be good. Last week opah, marlin, and ono made it to our buy list. Three 90-lb. whole opah or moonfish were on display at your local Whole Foods stores. Great for grilling, top loins yield red meat, excellent for steaking. The fatty belly loins are perfect for a kabob or a lunch steak. Kampachi are running a bit smaller, in the 6-lb. range, with a move to new pens. Sushi-quality Hawaiian Kampachi is harvested far off the Kona coast in pristine ocean waters.
We often speak of sustaining our oceans and doing the right thing, but wonder if these efforts make a difference. NOAA recently released its stocks report to Congress, which showed continued progress in eliminating overfishing while rebuilding current stocks. According to its data, overfishing declined by 30% between 2011 and 2012. Do your part to help the cause and buy from your sustainable seafood partner, Seattle Fish Company.
Check out our current wild salmon seasonal guide for scheduled wild openers.
Director of Purchasing
303.329.9595 ext. 121