Market Report

March 5, 2013

SALMON/TROUT

Fishmongers from all corners of the globe descend on Boston this weekend for the 2013 IBSS gathering. Major salmon producers will be in attendance, allowing face-to-face meetings on the state of the salmon industry. Supply remains short, which is driving prices upward. Norway reports shortages driven by slow growth and effects of the winter holiday in Norway and reduction in plant activity. The salmon market in Europe reached 52-week highs last week, and it is predicted that prices will stay strong the next four months with occasional breaks. Chilean Atlantic salmon fillets continue to advance on all sizes, allowing most Chilean producers to earn a profit.  Bottom line: don’t kill the messenger when your trusted Seattle Fish Company sales rep tells you prices are up.

Our direct-from-the-farm Scottish connection is very strong with suppliers protecting our needed volume. All farms are certified by GlobalGAP, adhering to stringent aquaculture practices. Pen densities are low, feed ratios approach 1:1, and sites are fallowed, allowing regeneration of the seabed. Our Scottish fish are harvested on Friday, packed on jumbo seafood skids, and flown directly to Denver, sliding into our plant Sunday morning, ready for Monday delivery. We have a midweek shipment with the same turnaround. Sizes are 6-10 kg, and we custom cut to your exact spec. Expect Scottish salmon prices to trend upward.

Have you heard about Seattle Fish Company’s “Run for the Roses?” No, we didn’t sell the ranch to buy a Derby horse but are doing the next best thing, joining with our Skuna Salmon friends to send a chef to the Kentucky Derby for the Taste of Derby cook-off. Skuna craft-raised salmon is the ‘salmon of choice’ for the world’s most well-known and historic horse race. Pick your best Skuna salmon recipe, and join the fun for the local cook-off competition. Judging by the great number of chefs in Colorado choosing Skuna salmon as their best choice, and the elite talent living and working in our Rocky Mountain state, competition should be spirited. Ask your Skuna sales expert for details, and if you haven’t yet tried Skuna, buy a two- or three-pack box, expertly picked and packed by craft farmers who are proud to sign their name on every box. Skuna, your only premium salmon of choice.

Reporting on higher prices, low volume, and logistical issues takes a break with fresh farm-raised trout. An excellent value, trout should be on every menu. Delicious, versatile, high in protein, and best of all trout is a menu moneymaker. Red trout, rainbow trout, filleted pin bone out, dressed, boned head on, have it your way and size that best fits your needs. As we approach our 100th year in business, our trusted trout supplier has been with us for almost the same amount of time.

CATFISH

Farm-raised U.S. catfish is the most popular fish in the country according to MayoClinic.com, yet the total U.S. round weight of catfish fell 10 percent from 334 million pounds in 2011 to 300 million pounds in 2012. A catfish fillet contains 220 calories, 27 grams protein, and 10 grams fat, 2 of which are saturated. Good for you, a great value, mild and agreeable flavor, all excellent reasons to add catfish to your menu or retail offering. Lenten ads abound at your favorite retail store. Seattle Fish Company provides shank skinless fillets, skinned whole head off fish, and catfish nuggets. Place your order today.

WEST COAST

Halibut season is right around the corner, with opening day set for March 23. The halibut season is eagerly anticipated every year, and you can count on Seattle Fish Company to have the first fish in town. The overall TAC (total allowable catch) is down again this year, as previously reported, and the effect on opening prices and average market pricing for the year remains to be seen. The halibut biomass is strong, and the fishery is sustainably managed as usual, but exploitable numbers have decreased the last few years. Fish simply need to get bigger to harvest. 

Ground fish supply is adequate for moderate demand. Pacific cod numbers are strong, filling retail ad needs. Rock cod, shallow water Dover sole, petrale sole, and arrow tooth flounder may be short due to weather until the end of the week. Larger fresh sablefish continues to be scarce and will not show in greater numbers until the spring thaw. Seven-pound and up frozen j-cut sablefish supply is excellent, and prices are starting to fall.  

Mexican shrimp season will close shortly. Inventories that are not already made will experience shortage. Price, especially for large shrimp, has escalated this year, due in no small part to a new disease threatening the farmed shrimp industry in Asia, primarily Thailand, the largest foreign shrimp importer to the U.S. Early Mortality Syndrome, or EMS, first showed in Chinese shrimp farms in 2010. Infected shrimp become lethargic and don’t feed, and severely affected ponds experience nearly 100 percent mortality. Depending on domestic gulf production, expect higher shrimp prices until mid to late summer. After that, we may see a new picture depending on how effectively farmers are combating the disease. Stay tuned.

EAST COAST

We know the east coast domestic scallop industry will see a 30 percent cut in production this season. The good news is that the scallop biomass is excellent, just not to harvestable size. The New England Fishery Management Council in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fisheries management plan oversees the scallop industry. Sounding like too many fingers in the pie, the Atlantic scallop industry has become an example of sound fishery. Our volume and price sacrifice this year will hopefully pay dividends in future seasons.

Ground fishing from the New England region is adequate against moderate to heavy demand. Cod supply is good, with flats and skin on haddock also available. Large monk tail quality has been very good, with prices trending downward. We have also seen limited availability of jumbo black sea bass, with southern Atlantic waters near Virginia yielding wild stripe bass that are 8 pounds and up.

The live lobster situation is rapidly deteriorating. Prices will continue to climb at a fast pace, especially for 2-pound lobsters and up, which are in very short supply. Maine lobster fishing is at a virtual standstill, and Canadian supply remains limited, allowing lobstermen to name their price. The situation will ease mid-April, and prices should drop in time for Mother’s Day specials.

SHELLFISH

Runaway popularity in oysters will bring shellfish vendors out of the woodwork to display their goods at next week’s Boston International Seafood Show. Our buyers will be scouring the aisles and docks for the latest and greatest to bring your way. You know oysters are popular when the new “sexy” food in China is oysters. We carry the largest variety of oysters in town and have the sales expertise to guide you through the waters. 

Meat yields on our Prince Edward Island rope-grown mussels are excellent and will continue to peak through mid-April. Mussels grown in this region are eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, not to mention a great price. The famed New England Aquarium reports, “The suspended culture system in which mussels are grown is one of the most friendly forms of aquaculture.” Rope-grown mussels are suspended in columns in the water requiring no additional biomass, feeding on the nutrient-rich natural proteins. Additionally, mussels grown thusly lessen levels of carbon dioxide from the oceans, reducing ocean acidification. We sell these gems in 10-lb. foodservice sizes and a smaller retail 2-lb. bag. Not on your menu, add today. 

Don’t forget about our hard-shell littlenecks, top necks, cherrystones, and pasta necks. Consistently packed for exact count and sizing, clams from Seattle Fish Company shellfish experts are a sure winner. In addition to hard shells, manila clams from the Northwest coast are at their peak quality and flavor. Perfect for those pasta specials, manilas are meaty and pop open quickly.

GULF

According to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), most commercially fished tuna stocks are stable, but fishery management could be improved. Trying a different approach to fishery improvement, ISSF is using a top-down assessment of management systems to effect change. The study is ongoing at this time. Tuna fishing in general is spotty this week, with minimal gulf landings and most volume coming from imports. Quality remains good, but pricing is staying on the high side. Swordfish, after a brief shortage respite, is once again scarce. Mahi landings are also on the short side, spiking cost a bit early this season. Imported mahi from South America generally wanes in the spring and summer months. The recent shortage has allowed producers to do a little price taking, hopefully corrected by additional volume later this week. 

Quality Gulf Wild grouper and snapper are arriving weekly, and judging by increased demand, the story is resonating with chefs and customers alike. Knowing exactly where your fish was caught, who caught it, how it was caught, why wouldn’t it resonate? Alliance members strictly adhere to allowable catch shares. The gulf reef fishery is recovering, and we benefit with regular shipments of quality gulf wild seafood. In addition to fresh Pontchartrain shrimp, live crabs, fresh-picked crabmeat, and puppy drum, we have added medium gulf oysters. Where else can you buy a quality oyster for about .40 each except from your gulf seafood source, Seattle Fish Company? Gulf seafood is premium quality and safe. Buy early, buy often.

GREAT LAKES

We are still receiving supply of walleye from the Great Lakes. Fishing, with the variable weather conditions, is tricky this time of year. We are obviously hoping conditions cooperate to supply the favored seafood from this area for 2013 Passover celebration starting March 25. The lake season opens in earnest May 1.

HAWAII

Hawaiian waters are yielding small catch, causing auction prices to peak. Numbers for quality tuna remain high, but there is some value in red albacore. Domestic Hawaiian albacore is higher priced than its imported brethren, but quality and color are superior. Since Hawaiian marlin is the only marlin legal for sale in the U.S., prices for this species have also stayed on the firm side. No change in our Hawaiian Kampachi, exclusively distributed only by Seattle Fish Company. Fish harvested Sunday off the Kona shores is processed and on our dock Tuesday morning. Same scenario later in the week, virtually still swimming when you get these 7-lb. average whole fish. There is no better time than today to add sushi-quality Hawaiian Kampachi, available year-round, to your menu.

Is purchasing seafood the ‘ultimate guessing game’? According to a current report from Oceana it is. Not from Seattle Fish Company it isn’t. Recent, and even not so recent, publicity surrounding seafood fraud has flooded the news waves. Numerous events of mislabeling seafood have been documented around the country, most commonly occurring with snapper and tuna. Mislabeling seafood is morally wrong, not to mention illegal. Seattle Fish Company is resolute in this belief. The National Fisheries Institute feels Oceana is using its findings and beliefs to support its lobbying efforts to force new laws requiring full traceability in seafood purchased. The NFI counters with necessity to enforce laws already in place. We agree with the National Fisheries Institute. Bottom line is buy your seafood from a trusted supplier.  Seattle Fish Company and our loyal team of employees is that supplier. We do the right thing.

Regards,

Harry Mahlers

Harry Mahleres
Director of Purchasing

Harry@seattlefish.com
303.329.9595 ext. 121

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