Recent downward pressure in the farmed salmon market appears to show reversal in trend. Lent begins this week, the Eastern seaboard is thawing out somewhat, and supply levels remain static, all contributing to increased demand. Hopefully the pricing springboard will not take us to late-January price levels. Production in 2014 is predicted to remain flat, and Chilean salmon farmers are holding true to those assurances by placing fewer juvenile salmon in the water. The smolt release figure in Chile this year is 142 million, down 3 percent from the prior year. The only growth appears to be Norway at 5.8 percent, slightly higher for 2015.
Premium farmed Atlantic salmon is shipped directly to Denver from our partner farms in Scotland and Norway three to four times a week. Bucking the trend of smaller fish in the salmon market, Seattle Fish Company provides ample supply of 6 to 8 kg. fish. Once in-house, we can ship whole fish or fillets processed to your exact specifications by our expert team of cutters. On the other side of the globe, our Canadian salmon–farmer friends at Skuna Bay are back in full production and on top of their game. Skuna Bay salmon are packed three fish per box, averaging 10-12 lbs. each, and are hand-picked by expert craft farmers. Each completely recyclable box is signed by the packer and sealed, opened only by the end user. If you prefer fillets, try our Gold River fillets, packed to the same exacting specifications as our whole fish. Skuna Bay has kept pricing consistent for a long period and, following the path of all protein, your Skuna salmon price will increase minimally. If indications of a softer market in the last two quarters of the year come to fruition, Skuna Bay prices will roll back. All in all, Skuna Bay salmon offers a superior product at very competitive costs. The Skuna Bay salmon name on your menu will certainly drive customer satisfaction and return business.
Wild salmon is looming right around the corner. Columbia River springers will start showing up this month. Expect first fish to come with a high price tag, typical for new-season kings. The traditional kickoff of the wild salmon season starts with the mid-May Copper River salmon season. In late April planes will start flying the region to view ice breakup on the river. Kings and sockeyes will be first to roll, followed by the chum and Coho seasons. Bristol Bay, the globe’s largest wild salmon region, predicts a 20% drop in spring and summer sockeye.
Protein prices continue to firm, but one of the real bargains is farm-raised trout. Rainbow or red meat, we provide trout in many forms, head-on dressed, head-on boned, butterflied fillets, or single-cut fillets in a variety of sizes, filling all your needs. Do your food cost a favor and add trout to your menu. Seattle Fish Company is also working on a viable supply of Colorado-raised trout. More news to follow.
Another value protein low in saturated (bad) and high in unsaturated (good) fat is U.S. Farm Catfish, also high in omega-3. Our catfish doesn’t have nine lives like the seemingly undefeatable USDC catfish program. Already costing American taxpayers more than $30 million (only 21.9 million EUR) without inspecting one single fish, this program survived yet another attempt to cut it from the federal budget. Domestic catfish farmers don’t want this kind of wasteful protection to their industry. The quality produced speaks for itself.
Alaskan and Canadian halibut boats are geared and primed to set sail this Saturday for the always-anticipated wild Pacific halibut opener. With luck and favorable weather, first tenders will arrive to shipping ports late Sunday or Monday. Our halibut partners at the docks will be waiting to box and ship the first catch directly to our dock at Seattle Fish Company. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is down 13% this year, leading to speculation on opening prices. Our prediction: high. Many boats are opting to start fishing later, augmenting firm price predictions. Additionally, freezers are empty, allowing fishermen who don’t receive expected or desired price to go to the freezer with their catch. We could have written a similar scenario last year, but freezers had some volume at that time. Regardless, demand and expectation will be high. Alaskan and Canadian ground fishing has been adequate, led by the Pacific cod fishery. Globally, signs point to strengthening of prices in cod markets. Berents Sea and the Atlantic cod fishery are projected to produce smaller numbers this year. Rock, shallow-water dover sole, arrow tooth flounder and perch are available but at the mercy of winter weather. Sable fishing is picking up, and scarcity of fresh should abate. We have excellent supply of sushi-quality J-cut frozen sablefish.
Further south along the Pacific coast, fishermen are waiting for the Chinook wild season scheduled to open May 1. Responsibly harvested, King Salmon is the largest of the five wild salmon species, with very high oil content, deep salmon coloring and robust flavor. Naturally occurring omega-3 is heart healthy. Dungeness crab fishing remains dismal with historically high prices. Corvina is starting to run in the Southern California and Baja waters. Prices are coming down and volume is good. Ample supply is available for retail ads. Fresh Baja bay scallop fishing is nil, still a month away from supply, but we carry a premium frozen Mexican bay scallop. Other species from this region include yellowtail, grouper, baquetta and snapper. Mexican shrimp fishing continues, but catch is limited and prices continue to climb to unprecedented levels. Seattle Fish Company remains your Mexican shrimp supplier with good numbers on all sizes, even some of the jumbo shrimp.
The U.S. scallop fishery, which recently garnered MSC certification, received more good news as 2014 scallop landings are likely to be greater than originally projected. New season is slated to begin in March with fishermen expecting a 4- to 5-million drop in numbers, which has been revised to a drop of 2.7 million pounds. Continue to add scallops to the ever-growing list of seafood offerings exhibiting higher prices. New England ground fish is always a Lenten favorite, and so far supply looks ample to fill increased demand. Fresh large dab fillets, skinless, boneless skate wing fillets, skin-on haddock, and market cod fillets, along with large monkfish tail, round out the daily offerings. Wild striped bass from the Mid-Atlantic waters has been very high priced all winter, but larger catch is bringing the price down to reasonable levels. Shad from this region is also available, including roe pairs.
Live lobster prices have increased significantly, but stability seems to be the norm, for a few weeks at least. Inventory, typically lower this time of year, is stifled even more with the very cold winter in the Northeast. Prices should begin to increase through the end of March and into April until the Canadian season opens, putting an ever-increasing burden on Maine fishing. By late April prices should return to normal, mirroring last year’s fare. Once again, look for a strong lobster season mid-May into the summer.
Looks like oysters in the shell are becoming Colorado’s favorite comfort food. Demand stays high no matter if it is New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. Looks as though everyone is in luck, because your Seattle Fish Company shellfish experts can offer great variety and knowledge to satiate your slider cravings. We often report on oysters we do carry but will highlight a variety we plan to bring in soon. Sol Azul is Mexico’s largest producer and exporter of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas), specially grown for half-shell markets around the globe. First take is, Mexico, warmer water and oysters do not mix, but you would be incorrect. Sol Azul oysters come from a region known as Estero El Cardon within the boundaries of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. These waters are fed from the cooler Gulf of California flow, and temperatures never exceed 60 degrees at the height of summer heat, even a few degrees cooler than the Gulf of Maine reports. Sol Azul oysters achieve the highest sustainability ratings from organizations such as Seafood Watch, SeaChoice, MSC, and NOAA Fisheries’ FishWatch. Notable of this region is the very high degree of salinity, and, when combined with the natural characteristics of a Pacific oyster, the unique splash of flavor is truly one to savor. Severe weather in the Canadian Atlantic region is hindering import from the area, but the balance of the East Coast is producing your favorite varieties from Duxbury to the Chesapeake region. We will likely face some struggles from our West Coast producers the next six weeks for both oysters and manila clams due to tides or lack thereof. Very little action in the way of tides exists in March lasting to April until the alternating good tide/bad tide cycle returns for the remainder of the year. Some producers are still suffering a gap in production, as we have reported. Barron, Eagles, Pickering, and Hammersley supplies are dwindling; there are no mature Eld Inlet and Jorstad Creek left in the water. New crops are planted and March brings more light and algae fueling faster growth.
Serving clams on the half shell? Can’t find a tastier or more consistent clam than the hard-shell clams found at Seattle Fish Company, plus the counts are always exact. Variety is good, with choice of littlenecks, top necks, cherrystones, and pasta necks. Mussels are also at the height of the season. Great news from our friends in Casco, Maine: The company producing our delicious Bangs Island mussels is growing. Primary mission for the Bangs Island crew is respect for the sea, and they demand that the operation is in complete harmony with the ocean. Growth brings transition, and supply will be somewhat diminished for the short term, paving the way for future stock.
Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras heralds the unofficial start of the gulf crawfish season. Unfortunately the season is 40 days late this year due to the colder winter temperatures. Crawfish are smaller ,and less supply has driven prices up. We carry a superior frozen tray-packed whole crawfish and meat conveniently packaged in one-lb. bags. Remember when American red snapper was available only once in a while? Well, times have changed. Fishery improvement projects (FIPs) and efforts of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance (they need a shorter acronym) has bolstered the reef fishery and brought us consistent supply. Seattle Fish Company supports these efforts. Gulf tuna and swordfish catch is hot and cold, and we are in the cold cycle this week. Water temperatures are a few degrees chillier this year, affecting tuna migratory patterns. Mahi production is starting to dwindle, typical for the season, and prices are climbing, but expect reasonable availability through March. The gulf crab season is slated to start in May, and expectation is for a better harvest this year.
More than 90% of the Great Lakes have been frozen solid this year, a much higher percentage than recent years. Last week our fishermen found a few open spots and were able to ship small amounts of walleye, hoping for more this week. The Lake season for all species opens May 1, depending on ice breakup.
Swordfish is running in the Hawaiian waters, and we are planning a skin-on, blood line–off special this weekend. Prices will be reasonable and, hopefully, fishing conditions are favorable. Tuna prices at the auction remain high, but good buys of marlin, monchong, opah, spearfish, and walu are an option. Hawaiian Kampachi is growing, and sizing is getting better weekly. Shipments are still once a week, but twice-weekly harvest should be available soon.
Per capita consumption of seafood is down slightly worldwide. Primarily, increased cost of fish is given as the major driver, but supply must be taken into account. Where will our seafood come from? Conservation and embracing efforts to improve fisheries is key, efforts embraced by Seattle Fish Company in word and deed. To augment wild fisheries, aquaculture has grown exponentially and is predicted to supply nearly two-thirds of global fish food supply by 2030 as wild stocks level and emerging middle class, primarily in China, demand more seafood. Our customers in the Rocky Mountain region, while embracing our excellent aquaculture fish, look for wild species. Seattle Fish Company is dedicated to fulfilling your needs, and we do our part to ensure sustainable stock for future generations. We will take a break from our next report to attend the Annual Seafood Expo North America, formerly know as the Boston Seafood Show, and will report news and trends of our favorite subject – fish.