Market Report

November 11, 2014

SALMON/TROUT

How are global Atlantic markets doing this week? Sort of depends on where you live or more importantly, where you source. European markets are gaining strength as prices jump on lower volume, higher demand. A hike in Norwegian salmon prices is in line with patterns seen in previous years as numbers start to tick upward with Christmas demand ramp-up. Analysts predict a production growth of 8 percent in Euro markets by the end of this year and an average of 3 percent from 2015 to 2018. The Russian import ban is a non-story, as the supply chain merely shifted from Norway to Faroe production, exports from this region increasing twenty-fold since early summer. Scottish salmon price has also started to move, but as always,Seattle Fish Company offers the best value and quality with direct from Scottish Sea Farms to Denver. Whole head on fish or expertly cut to your specifications, our production crew is ready to fill your order. In other salmon markets, substantial increases in supply from Chile, Canada and wild production have driven prices down in the U.S. Chilean producers are expecting market prices from this region to remain soft until after the Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps longer. Chile was expecting a huge boost from Russia, but fresh logistics were not realistic and lack of freezing capacity in Chile prevented a mass diversion from the U.S. market to Russia.

The Alaska wild salmon fishery is closing doors for the season, but excellent frozen supply will be available. Seattle Fish Company has ramped up wild salmon offerings this winter; check with your sales rep for choice of king, sockeye and coho.  

Farm-raised trout supply is at its peak and ready for winter menus. Whether your preference is rainbow or red meat, we provide the cut and size that works best. Looking for the perfect trout to add to your winter menu or retail seafood case? Try the king of trout, Loch Etive Steelhead from the Northern Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Seattle Fish Company is the exclusive distributor in the Rocky Mountain region for this superior product. These fish are fat, good size, 4-6 kg each, ideally suited for grilling as well as sushi, crudo, carpaccio or tartare. Pictures and words are good, but seeing is believing. A recent trip to the farm by one of our buyers confirmed the remote pristine environment, pure waters, rapidly moving currents and a clean, sanitized production facility with modern, efficient equipment. All Loch Etive farm sites are allowed to fallow, have low stocking densities, and have an average feed ratio of 1.2:1, which is excellent in the industry. There is no GMO in the feed, and no hormones or growth promoters. Sea Dawn, farmers for Loch Etive, do it right. Arguably one of the most superior fish available, Loch Etive should be on your menu or in your retail seafood counter—available only at Seattle Fish Company. Ask for Loch Etive today.

CATFISH

Full production and excellent outlook for the winter months make U.S. farm-raised catfish a must for that great fish sandwich or retail ad. Planning your menu or ads will be easy with a steady outlook for pricing. Farm-raised catfish adds variety and offers a nutritional profile including vitamins, protein and minerals promoting healthy tissue and a balanced diet. Catfish is now ranked as number eight on the highest per capita seafood consumed in the U.S. Don’t miss out on the fun. Ask about shank fillets, whole-dressed skinless catfish and nuggets.

WEST COAST

 
The Alaska halibut season officially closed November 7, with 98 percent of the TAC (total allowable catch) met. Prices, even though firm all season, avoided the peak-and-valley cost cycles. Next season will begin in March. The exact date will be set at the January meetings of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Anticipation is the 2015 quota will be set lower than 2014 numbers, a trend in recent years. Arguably the best managed, most sustainable fishery globally, the IPHC relies on sound, time-tested science, carefully examining all data to arrive at a number that allows for a viable commercial fishery and the health of the biomass. All meetings are open to the public. Need that Pacific halibut fix all winter? Fear not, we have been stockpiling excellent frozen whole halibut during the summer peak for our re-freshed halibut program. Slow thaw in our chill, expert processing , and you have a product mirroring fresh. Ask your sales contact for details. Ground fishing in the Northwest returned to normal the past few days as weather patterns settled for limited fishing, producing rock fish, shallow-water dover sole and limited pot cod catches. Sable fishing remains very spotty at this time. The Alaska cod season opens for full harvest January 1. Frozen Pacific cod is plentiful, with stocks at highest levels in recent memory, which is great news for the end user. One of my long-time fish suppliers and friends likened Pacific cod pricing to imagining Mt. Rainier: “The slope down from the peak is quite long and Pacific cod value is down to the foothill level.” Try Pacific cod, packed in easy-to-access shatter-pack boxes—perfect for a variety of applications and inexpensive.

The California and Mexico Baja waters are yielding grouper, bay scallops, fresh Mexican shrimp, petrale sole, limited sword harvest and some local head on sablefish, typically much smaller than their northern brethren. With the closing of the Alaska halibut season, Mexican pangas will target large local fluke, aka California halibut. Most boats, however, are fishing for shrimp. The fall hurricane season hindered early catch, but shrimping is robust, and Seattle Fish Company carries all sizes of shell-on wild Mexican shrimp. Value-added cooked and raw, peeled and deveined shrimp are being processed as we speak and will be available soon. Prices will be firm, but crunching into a delicious 16-20 cooked Mexican shrimp is worth the wait and cost. The approaching holiday signals the annual stampede for shrimp. Smaller sizes are staying relatively stable, with surges seen in the bigger sizes. The gap in large tigers and whites is significant, with U-15 tigers averaging in the mid-teens and the same-sized vannamei (whites) in the low teens. EMS (early mortality syndrome) continues to plague the shrimp industry and is likely here to stay in some form. Some expert suggestions on ways to reduce EMS include reduction of stock densities, allowing ponds to fallow, applying antibiotics, introducing viruses that infect the EMS virus and others. None of these steps come free, so is there an expectation of price reduction for imported shrimp? Not likely.

EAST COAST

The New England Fisheries Management Council commissioned independent scallop surveys to gather information for a benchmark scallop study. Indications are for new, healthy scallop recruitment in several areas. The biomass resource is deemed to be rebuilt and not overfished, raising optimism that 2015 fishing limits will increase. Modest increases in days at sea are being discussed, from 31 to 34, in addition to increased landing limits in Closed Area trips. There are a significant number of young scallops steadily maturing, which bodes well for future seasons. Volume and availability for the balance of this season will definitely be a challenge, especially for large sizes. Refreshed and Hokkaido Japanese scallops will lower price alternatives. The Nantucket Bay season is here. These “candy” scallops are harvested daily during the short season. Nantuckets grow in the nutrient-rich eel grass in the shallow bays and harbors in Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Prices are high as usual, but should decrease, relatively, in the coming weeks.

Lobster harvest is in full swing and live bugs should continue to be affordable through the end of the year. Prices always spike during Christmas and New Year’s weeks with demand at a peak. The frozen market, conversely, is strong. Prices are over $1 higher than last year, but look to your lobster experts at Seattle Fish Company for good supply and all sizes of frozen tails. Have a large, live lobster special? Order in our cloud-pack boxes, specially engineered to ensure your cargo arrives fresh and lively. The ground fishery in New England will continue to face tough times, especially with cod. Limited days at sea and quota limitations have driven many ground fishermen out or in another direction, forcing prices up as much as 25 percent. To fill needs, we ship fresh Icelandic cod direct from Reykjavik two to three times a week. Look for wild striped bass and black bass to be available for holiday and winter specials.

SHELLFISH

Oyster season is here, even though it never really goes away. The grueling spring and summer is behind us, variety is good and quality is excellent. A perfect time to sample some of our wares is this Wednesday at the Westex Food Show at The Colorado Convention Center. Among our West and East Coast varieties, we will feature Naked Cowboy oysters. You have heard of them (and their namesake)—deep-cupped oysters, with great meat fill that are easy to shuck. Naked Cowboy oysters hail from Long Island, New York, and are delivered to our door twice a week. This wild-grown virginica features medium salinity and crisp body, with a touch of sweetness and a nice earthy, mineral finish. Price per piece is reasonable, making it an excellent fit for any raw bar. Your Seattle Fish Company oyster experts will guide you through all choices. West Coast selection is also ramping up with good supply from our farmer partners in Puget Sound, as well as the entire Washington coast. Olympia oysters as well as flats from Lopez Island will yield good supply this season. 

This is also the premier time to source mussels. If mussels have been off your menu for any reason, now is the time to bring them back. Seattle Fish Company features rope-cultured mussels from Prince Edward Island, Maine, as well as specialty mussels from other regions. What exactly is a rope-grown mussel? A series of lines, called backlines, is moored through a setting of buoys. Shorter lines, actual ropes, laden with tiny mussels, are dropped from the backlines into the water. From there, mussels are left to their own devices, feeding from the nutrients swept in by changing tides. In the case of our premium Bangs Island mussels, ropes are suspended from large rafts floating up and down in tidal exchanges of as high as 12 feet. Located in Casco, Maine, Bangs Island mussels are fed an endless buffet of nutrients from the perfect intersection of the Gulf Stream and the Gulf of Maine.

Never taking a back seat in our mollusk selections, are clams. Farmed and wild hard shells from Dennis, Massachusetts, are always near perfect. We consistently offer littlenecks, pasta necks, cherrystones and top necks in food service and retail counts. The sweet blast of ocean flavor is unmistakable. Manila clams from the West Coast are the best choice for your seafood stews and pasta dishes. Seattle Fish Company is your one-stop shellfish choice.

THE GULF

The winter mahimahi season is in full swing, prices are good and production is coming from most regions. Seattle Fish Company is a founding member of Sea Pact, a group of like-minded industry companies across the U.S. and Canada. Our goal, in concert with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, is to improve fisheries, to help them on the road to sustainable practice, and to do the right thing. We put our money where our mouth is, always putting the goal of handing off our fisheries to future generations in better condition than we found them. One of our partners in this journey is a Panamanian mahi fishery, featured at our recent sustainability conference in Denver. We will offer mahi from this fishery when available. Sustainability of the reef fishery in the Gulf is another passion. Our grouperand American red snapper is primarily sourced from our Gulf Wild friends who are dedicated to catching shares, tagging all their harvest to show transparency of location of catch, boat name and boat captain. Swordfishhas recently become scarce as Canadian boats motor down for winter and fish other species. The Gulf sword boats are also coming home dry, and it’s the same with the New Zealand fishery. Gulf tuna vessels are starting to return to port bounty after a very dry October. Our Central American tuna partner came across a short-trip school this past weekend, and fresh tuna hit our dock yesterday. Rock shrimp is back in stock with IQF and block frozen choices. As is the case in all the shrimp fisheries, rock shrimp prices are up this year, but their distinctive flavor and texture make them a must add to your shrimp inventory. After a slow start, the Gulf shrimp fishery is gaining steam, with adequate supply across the board.

GREAT LAKES

Big winter weather is on the way to the Great Lakes, which will soon freeze a majority of the region, but we are still in the harvest window for the season. To supply your winter needs, we carry this season’s frozen IQF fillets. Ask your rep for details on all Lake choices.

HAWAII

Direct shipments from Hawaii have been somewhat quiet lately, but volume has been increasing as fishermen gear for the tourist season. Opah and wahoo have been steady, but tuna and marlin have been on the short side. There has been some shortage of Hawaiian Kampachi, but our supplier is committed to weekly shipments. Kampachi are raised in pristine deep-water pens off the coast of Kona, diver harvested and immediately shipped to Denver. A truly sushi grade fish, Kampachi is comfortably at home on the raw bar or perfectly seared rare. 

Per capita seafood consumption in the U.S. was at 14.028 pounds in 2013 compared to 13.48 pounds the previous year. These numbers, of course, pale next to other proteins—chicken, beef and pork—but the increase is significant and is likely much higher in the Rocky Mountain region if our volume of sales is an indicator. Salmon is now the number two most-consumed seafood, passing tuna for that spot. Farm-raised salmon is a major player in this increase. Controversy still exists regarding farm raised versus wild, and occasionally, derogatory articles damning farm-raised salmon appear. There are always two sides to every story, and we would ask that you get all information available to make informed decisions. Our staff is always willing and able to assist in those needs.

Check out our website for our seasonality guide and other valuable information.

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