19 Jan 2015

Market Report – Jan. 6, 2015

January 19, 2015


Welcome to 2015. This past year, farmed salmon has seen a significant rebound in popularity, surpassing canned tuna as the number two most consumed seafood, behind only shrimp. Fears and prediction of salmon prices increasing dramatically were a bit overstated. While there has been some firmness in the global market place, farm-raised Atlantic salmon, our number one seller, remains a bargain. Even with increased demand, supply seems to be more than adequate, contributing to the stabilization of pricing. Look for level pricing to continue through 2015. Production in Chile continues its steady pace, and a post-holiday decrease in demand may even suppress cost for a short period. Norwegian and Scottish markets are steady as she goes, as customer demand for premium fish from this region remains high. Seattle Fish Co. is a direct-from-the-source shipper, bringing you the freshest, most competitive-priced salmon on the market. We are starting to see some larger, 8 to 10 kg sized Scottish salmon, giving you a full range of size. We can send whole dressed salmon or further process to your exact specification. Premium farmed Skuna Bay salmon raised by our farmer salmon craftsmen in the pristine regions of Nootka Sound in Vancouver Island, Canada, rounds out our extensive farmed salmon offering. Want to stay wild? We can do that, too. Save for a few fresh troll king salmon winter harvests at high cost, we offer the finest of the past season’s frozen Alaska salmon. From our Johnstone Strait refreshed sockeye fillets, large king salmon fillets from Southeast Alaska, to our frozen-at-sea cohos caught off Kruzof Island in Alaska, we provide your wild salmon fix all winter. Skeptical about frozen wild salmon? Fear not. This is not our first rodeo. We know where and how to buy it right. Ask your sales rep for details.

Farm-raised trout numbers continue to grow, with good reason. Trout is popular, especially in Colorado, reasonably priced and tastes great, the perfect addition to any menu from a neighborhood diner to a five-star white tablecloth restaurant. Dressed or pin-boned fillets, we offer the size and form you need in both rainbow and red-meat variety. Additional supply of home-grown Colorado rainbow trout fillets may soon be available. Want to try the Cadillac of trout? Try Loch Etive, Scottish steelhead trout from Northern Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. Unique to the region is a pristine environment, fish constantly swimming against swift-moving, icy cold water, storing fat and muscle, creating the perfect fish. Taste will win you over. It’s the fish I always bring home for dinner.


Catfish is catfish, right? Not when it comes to catfish you buy exclusively atSeattle Fish Co. Ninety-five percent of U.S. farm-raised catfish comes from the Delta region of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Our catfish farmer partner began as a family-owned business in Schlater, Mississippi, in the mid-‘70s, growing into the largest producer in the country. Their catfish is now processed in a 135,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, providing quality products delivered accurately and in a timely manner, the only U.S. catfish company to earn BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice) certification for live fish plants. Not to be taken lightly, Best Aquaculture Practice is an independent, international certification program “based on achievable, science-based and continuously improved performance standards for the entire aquaculture supply chain.” There can be no gaps in excellence to certify; farms, hatcheries, processing plants, and feed mills. Seattle Fish Co. carries fresh shank fillets, dressed headless and skinless cats, and nuggets.


The Pacific cod season opened New Year’s Day, and another excellent harvest is expected. Retailers are setting their ads with fresh and frozen shatter-pack cod filling cases. Availability of other West Coast ground fish, such as rock, shallow water dover, perch, petrale, and arrow tooth flounder, will be a bit sketchy for a period. Winter weather, the bulk of the fleet fishing for cod, and a general slowdown after the first of the year as crews take a holiday break are primary reasons. Sable fishing, recently slowed, should pick up later this month. We spoke of quality, frozen Alaska salmon products, and Alaska halibut fits that mold. We stock premium halibut, blast frozen immediately after catch, and offer excellent quality re-freshed halibut fillets all winter. Speaking of halibut, the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) holds their annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada, at the end of the month, setting Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the 2015 season. King crab is back, at least in the Rocky Mountain region. The TAC was increased this season, and with a burgeoning biomass, the harvest was caught in less than a month. Looks like I don’t have to upsell king crab. Judging by the staggering volume of king crab we sold this holiday season, everyone in Colorado enjoyed a sweet crab leg or two. Again this season Dungeness crab was a disappointment, starting the season with great promise, but faltering as fishermen had trouble finding crabs. Prices have surged, driving demand for Alaska opelio crab, a better bargain. Other crab meat, namely pasteurized swimming crab, not from the West Coast but in the same genre, saw a topsy-turvy 2014. Prices rose to very high levels, turning off customers. Production levels are starting to return to normal, and prices are coming down again. Funny how demand drives the marketplace.

Southern Pacific waters are still yielding petrale sole, likely to remain a bargain for a while. Yellowtail is available, as are Mexican stone crab claws, bay scallops, and some California halibut. Most fishing, however, in SoCal and Mexico comes to a virtual halt as the fleets tie up for the holiday. Look for the last half of January to bring a fishing resurgence. Mexican shrimping continues, but prices continue to ratchet upward. We have taken positions on most popular sizes, so check with your Seattle Fish Co. seafood expert for a report on the finest, arguably, shrimp in the world. The shrimp industry worldwide has seen its peaks and valleys in the past year. Peak has been pricing, steadily increasing the last two years. Even though imports in 2014 exceeded the prior year, expectations have fallen short. A reduction in price has spurred some activity, but some buyers have been turned off and have comfortably moved to other seafood menu items. Hopefully prices will continue to fall the balance of the year. Contrary to that wish, however, is the pricing in India, after falling 20% in December, has started to come back as importers are starting to buy in greater volume. Overall perception is that soft demand will keep prices in check. Let’s see which will prevails.


Live lobster sales during the holiday season broke previous records in spite of harvest in Canada and New England returning to more normal levels after huge catch the prior two years. Prices are higher this year, but holiday buyers were not deterred. Prices for live lobsters could continue to rise this winter as warmer water temperatures in New England are driving lobsters further out, increasing cost to fish this product. Global demand is also pushing price. Ground fishing on the Eastern seaboard is adequate for moderate demand. Cod, a mainstay of the New England fishery, continues to have issues. During the heydays of the ‘80s, 25,000 tons of cod was harvested, now reduced to a quarter of that total. Icelandic cod is filling the void, arriving on direct flights from Reykjavik twice weekly. Good supply of sole, flounder, and large monk tails is available. Wild black bass is on the menu in some of our resort restaurants, as is wild stripe bass, but prices remain very strong. Lower quota for stripe bass this year does not bode well for that price to come down anytime soon. The 2015 scallop season opens in March. Even with higher prices this year, scallop demand remains strong as we limp toward the finish line. Nantucket scallops were generally available, but have recently become scarce, following the trend of short supply of seafood options post-holiday.


We recently predicted breaking all oyster sales records from previous years. Well, the record was not only broken, but shattered. Seattle Fish  its part in elevating oyster popularity, delivering over 175,000 oysters to our loyal customers during the Christmas season. Retail grocery stores and restaurants equally shared in the bounty. Several varieties from both coasts enable buyers to offer choice for their customers. Two fast-moving choices from the West Coast are kusshi and shigoku oysters. Kusshis are the rage due to their small size and ultra clean flavor, grown in floating bags, aggressively tumbled in Deep Bay off Vancouver Island. Shigokus, meaning “ultimate” in Japanese, are similarly grown but are attached to stationary floating lines, rising and falling with the tides twice a day, tumbled into a full meat cupped shape. The result produces a clean taste of cucumber and salt with a finish of water chestnuts. Ask your oyster experts at Seattle Fish Co. about both of these premium selections. Mussels from Prince Edward Island and Bangs Islands from Casco, Maine, are excellent this time of year with good meat fill. Hard-shell clams from Dennis, Massachusetts, are sweet and consistent. Littlenecks, cherrystones, pasta necks, and top necks come packed in exact-count foodservice or retail pack sizes. Manila clams from our West Coast shippers round out our stock fare of shellfish. Specialty clams, such as razors, have been short due to weather, combined with unfavorable tides. Some quantity is starting to show. Check with your rep for availability. Seattle Fish Co. is your definitive shellfish provider in the Rocky Mountain region.


As in other regions, the Gulf tuna fleet docked for the holidays, save for a few boats. Volume will diminish in the next two weeks as the fleet gets back to fishing. Tuna prices remained steady in December, but are likely to firm in the short term. Swordfish is limited against soft demand, but mahi production, both domestic and imported, is good and prices are soft. Good time to put mahi on your menu or offer retail ads. Our Gulf Wild fleet is still fishing with good supply of American red snapper and grouper, plus recent offering of tile bass.


Contrary to other years, tuna landings in Hawaii the last two weeks of December were strong, bringing optimism for a good January. Plenty of sashimi and poke helped Hawaii residents ring in the New Year. Most satisfying was that prices were more reasonable. The Honolulu auction also features monchong, a nice volume of opah, blue marlin, limited bottom fish (opakapaka and onaga), and spearfish. Don’t forget about our Hawaiian Kampachi, farmed deep in the ocean and off the shores of Kona. This locale is occasionally subject to severe weather, which occurred last week, halting a harvest. Supply is still adequate and our suppliers are assuring continued shipments once a week. Hawaiian Kampachi is truly a sushi-quality fish, excellent for raw, crudo, or seared dishes. Try Kampachi today.

Welcome to 2015. Expect continued excellent service, product, and innovation from your seafood friends at Seattle Fish Co. We thank you for your trust and look forward to serving you this and coming years.

Check out our website for product offerings, news, and other valuable information.


Harry Mahlers

Harry Mahleres
Director of Purchasing
303-329-9595 ext. 121