Worldwide salmon markets are relatively quiet this week. Adequate supply for dull demand is keeping prices soft on all fronts. The Chilean fillet market remains unchanged, and whole fish trended lower. Production levels are predicted to remain steady for the balance of the year. Chile, with a penchant for strikes and other forced production slowdown, remains something of a wild card, but relative calm should rule. If current prices in Chile stay low, contraction of producers will surely follow. Canadian Atlantics are running small, with 6-8 lb. size proving to be the norm. Excellent pricing can be had on whole fish up to 9 lb., but 3 lb. fillets cut out of larger fish are somewhat spendy. European markets are also softer this week, with some producers offering low pricing to move product. Larger Scottish fish remain at a premium, with value pricing to be found on the 5-6 kg. size. We also offer weekly direct-from-the-farm shipment of Norwegian and whole salmon. And certified European Organic salmon is also available weekly. Ask your sales rep for details and pricing.
The wild salmon harvest is certainly not shutting down with a whimper. Cohos from southeast Alaska are running stronger, as are Columbia kings, which are experiencing a later and larger run than usual. The Columbias are showing that gunmetal gray skin, but meat color remains bright, and bellies are fat. Don’t get too used to kings, however, as the season is heading for a rapid halt. Most of these fish are moving through your favorite retail account now, but some restaurants are joining the late fray. There was also a small pop-up of sockeye off Kodiak Island this past weekend.
Farm-raised trout are steady except for the red-meat variety. Idaho farmers are out of larger sizes for another three to four weeks. Some of that shortfall is being filled by our Utah farmer, as was the case last week. A weekly supply of Colorado trout is gaining more favor from our customers. Prices are higher, but a homegrown, completely sustainable trout product has appeal. Currently, our Colorado menu includes a 6-9 oz. butterfly product and a 14-18 oz. dressed head-on trout, which creates a beautiful plate presentation.
Our Mississippi catfish partners tell us there will be no supply interruptions this fall and winter season — which is good news for our retail and foodservice catfish lovers. Look for bargain ads at your grocer’s seafood counter or a delicious catfish sandwich at your favorite lunch spot. U.S. farm-raised catfish is your only sustainable catfish choice, as it is BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice) certified.
The halibut catch remains spotty, and prices are staying firm as we head towards the last month of the Alaska and Canadian Pacific halibut season. Many areas are nearing the end of their yearly quota, but our Adak, Alaska fishermen are seeing good harvests. FV vessels Selah and The Katie Jean are alternating full trips of fresh halibut to fill our needs. When the fresh halibut season closes, look for our expertly processed refreshed Alaska halibut. Halibut, blast frozen at the height of the season, is specifically targeted for our winter program. Prices for the season will mirror last year, giving you an excellent halibut menu choice for the winter months. Look for refreshed halibut ads ad your retail grocery store.
In the past week, adverse weather conditions have slowed the Pacific ground fishery. Pacific cod is starting to pick up, with some boats docking out of Kodiak. Frozen cod supply will be down this year, reversing the downward trend we enjoyed last season. Rock fishing has been adequate, but shallow-water dover sole is non-existent; we’re hoping to break out with some volume by week’s end. Striving to be your sustainable seafood source and support the Pacific ground fishery, we offer U.S.-harvested splitnose rockfish this week. Splitnose is rated green, best choice, by our friends at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ask your rep about obtaining some of these 2-4 lb. beauties for your weekly special, hailing from Neah Bay, Washington. Perch, arrowtooth flounder, sablefish and ling have all been short lately, victims of the current weather pattern in the Northwest.
Crab of all flavors from Pacific waters remain tight across the board. We are hopeful the December Dungeness season will bring some relief, but if history serves, this fishery will face supply challenges once again. A fly in the ointment could be the possible government shutdown. If there is a shutdown, government employees who issue permits will be on furlough, and without the permits, crabbers will not be able to fish legally. New crab quotas for the upcoming season should be announced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) this week or next. A recent (2015) survey showed a decline in the mature male biomass for King Crab and opelio. As a result, quotas will surely decline this year, boding ill for winter and spring crab pricing. One bright spot is large recruitment for snow crab, indicating larger abundance next year, which may have some effect on ADFG’s quota this year. Southern California has seen a dearth of catch lately.
The 2015 Mexican shrimp season is open, and we should see first production arrive mid-October. Early indications portend a good harvest with pricing similar to last year’s. Seattle Fish Co. will once again be your primary Mexican shrimp supplier in both shell-on and value-added raw peeled and deveined as well as cooked varieties. Arguably, Mexican shrimp is without equal. Other good shrimp news is that the market is trending downward, especially in the domestic market. We are hearing some chatter that costs may increase as we head toward the holiday season, but many large importers have good supply, so pricing threats may prove idle.
Ground fishing has been adequate for sole and monkfish. The haddock supply is good, but cod remains very tight. The domestic cod supply has been augmented with Icelandic cod, with volume surpassing original estimates. In spite of this, prices are firming, likely as a result of increased demand for this quality fish. Wild striped bass is very tight, with some smaller fish available from the mid-Atlantic region. Larger stripers are very pricey and, based on quota reduction, even a December fishery for larger fish may not offer much relief. We have seen some smaller wild black bass, Boston mackerel and bluefish recently.
There is not much change or activity in the scallop world this week, but winter, rough seas, limited quota and a dearth of larger dry scallops will likely firm pricing.
Last Friday, September 25, was the U.S.’s first National Lobster Day in recognition of the famed crustacean. Did you celebrate? The White House did, at a state dinner for the Chinese president, at which a portion of Maine lobster was served, poached in butter, along with leek rice noodle rolls. You may not be catering events on the international stage, but for whatever special occasion you or your customers have planned, Seattle Fish Co. is your Rocky Mountain lobster provider. Ask about our special cloud-packed lobsters for larger orders. We will soon offer 12-count pre-packed boxes to reduce handling and allow us to offer our customers value pricing. Your Seattle Fish Co. sales rep will have details.
There are probably many who do not want to see nice summery, hot weather come to an end, but oysters are not in that group. Colder weather is bringing back the happy oyster, especially on the West Coast. Closures due to unseasonably high temperatures have greatly limited the available variety. British Columbia production has been completely shut down, but is scheduled to be back online later this week — which is good news, as it should bring back many of our BC favorites.
Deviating from the West Coast oyster region, let’s talk about a Pacific oyster from Down Under: the Cormandel oyster. When temperatures soar here, we offer a perfect oyster from MacGregor Bay, New Zealand, farmed on intertidal racks and bags on New Zealand’s pristine Cormandel Peninsula. Cormandels possess a crisp ocean brine, plump meat with a blast of flavor possessing a vibrant hint of minerality and the undeniable cucumber finish of a Pacific oyster. Ask your Seattle Fish Co. shellfish expert for a bag of Cormandels today. And from the East Coast, satisfy your briny cravings with the likes of Island Creek, Wianno Bay, Malpuque, Wellfleet and Blue Point oysters. Or, from the mid-Atlantic, try value offerings like 38 Degree North, Barcats and Double Dee oysters.
In the clam world, our West Coast Manila clams are getting stronger. To supplement our needs for a quick-popping clam, we offer New Zealand cockles. Hard-shell clams are supplied by our partners in Dennis, Massachusetts, who send the finest littlenecks, pasta necks, top necks and cherrystone clams available from their new state-of-the-art clam facility. When tides permit, look to us for razor clams. Mussels are back to full-time feeding, getting fatter and tastier. Remember, always, to keep your mussels well iced and drained.
Gulf tuna boats have been long on expense and short on catch lately — not a good combination. Adding to their problems is a tropical storm centered on our Dulac, Louisiana docks. Fortunately, tuna imports have looked great lately. Graded sushi-quality number-one and bright red two-plus tunas have been the norm. If it’s not already on your menu, add tuna from Seattle Fish Co. to your buy list. Ungraded (but excellent) small tuna loins are perfect for the retail case or as a medallion tuna steak special. The super-frozen tuna market is slowly growing, especially in Europe, as importers look for price stability and consistent quality. Look for upcoming availability of super-frozen tuna from Seattle Fish Co. Swordfish is the bargain of the week, offering excellent pricing and superior quality. Mahi prices are sliding slowly as we head towards the height of the season. Our Gulf Wild fishermen are harvesting American Red Snapper and grouper, and producing more than adequate supply for the current quiet demand.
Our favorite Great Lakes fish, walleye has been very short this week. Water temperatures are still above normal, and heavy winds have limited fishing. We are looking for a good supply for weekend sales.
Opah was the buy of the week, with good value to be had on top and bottom loins (well marbled and excellent when grilled). Other Hawaiian selections include kajiki, blue marlin, monchong and tuna. Honolulu auction buyers appraise daily average prices, and we place orders. Our buyers then go to work as each major species is auctioned off, one fish at a time. The winning bid gets a piece of identifying paper attached to it, and then it’s on to the next fish. A crowd of bidders moves up and down the rows at a fast pace, and you’d better have your act together or risk falling by the wayside. Fortunately, our buyers have great experience.
Fish is iced, boxed and shipped directly to Denver. Another direct shipment to Denver from the islands comes from Kona. Hawaiian kampachi is harvested from offshore deep-sea ocean pens, packed and shipped the same day to Denver.
Please check out our website for newsletters, specials and, as always, our seasonality guide.
Director of Purchasing