31 Mar 2015

Market Report – March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015


Atlantic farm-raised salmon is the king of seafood this week as we head into Easter weekend. Seattle Fish Co. is ratcheting up volume from all salmon-producing regions of the globe. For Sunday brunch or weekend specials, farm-raised salmon will make your day. Chile continues its steady pace of production and pricing, and is likely to continue as we head toward the wild season. Chile, the commodity salmon global leader, is challenged by strong production and competitive pricing from British Columbia farmed salmon growers. Our Scottish salmon partners deliver excellent quality whole head on dressed salmon weekly. All sites have low stocking density, close to 1-to-1 feed-to-growth ratio; use no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no GMOs; and provide all-natural feed. All sites are fallowed according to defined generational separation. They do it right and sell exclusively to Seattle Fish Co. in the Rocky Mountain region. Equally excellent are our Norwegian salmon fillets and whole fish. A bit weaker dollar this week combined with stronger NOK has elevated price slightly, but bargains abound as volume and vendor commitment keeps your price reasonable. Look for a major retail Norwegian salmon push in the coming weeks. Quality, excellence, attention to detail, service – we must be talking about Skuna Bay craft-raised salmon. We have spoken often about the care the Skuna craft farmers take with their fish. These men and women live with the fish daily. Skuna Bay salmon go through a rigorous inspection checklist to be deemed worthy. They are carefully packed in insulated thermal lined recyclable boxes, signed by the skilled packer, rushed to your back door, and opened by you, the chef. Can’t get better than that, right? Not exactly. To enhance the Skuna experience, we just introduced Skuna Bay Craft Salmon fillets packed to the same exacting standards as the whole fish. Same box, same packaging, but open the box in your kitchen and you will find 4 consistently sized fillets, scaled, pin boned, sealed in breathable bags for maximum shelf life, 100% usable. Skuna Bay Craft Gold River fillets and Seattle Fish Co. – a perfect marriage.

Getting jacked for the wild Alaska season? Check out Seattle Fish Co. 2015 wild salmon guide for openers. The Alaska spring troll season has come to a close with quota filled. Columbia River will produce spring fish soon, closely followed by the California Chinook May 1 opening date. Speaking with a California fisherman recently, optimism reigns with estimated strong landing numbers. Copper River opens mid-May, kicking the wild season door wide open. Get ready.

Like trout? Try steelhead. Scottish steelhead is the rage of our retail outlets, for good reason. The price is right, but the taste and light texture have patrons coming back for more. U.S. farm-raised trout supply is excellent, with prices staying flat. Seattle Fish Co. offers all sizes and cuts of both rainbow and red variety. Put trout on your menu today.


U.S. farm-raised catfish markets have been steady the past few months, with good volume and featured retail ads. Supply reports from the USDA for the catfish industry were published earlier this year, indicating shortages again this year from April through July. Our catfish partner is in a better position this year than last. Prices should stay level until July when, hopefully, pond prices will fall. Feed prices remain the cost driver. Another catfish not heard from or publicized much is Blue Catfish, called the biggest environmental threat Chesapeake Bay has ever faced. Blue Catfish can reach 20 years of age and grow up to 100 lbs. – they’re at the top of the food chain and are voracious feeders. Underutilized, sustainable, and from all reports great eating, Chesapeake Blue Catfish might be a good bet.


Vessels fishing Alaskan waters have harvested 762,000 lbs. of the TAC of more than 17 million quota to date. Prices have eased, but harsh weather this week may weaken numbers and keep costs firm. The remote outpost of Adak, Alaska, in the southern Aleutian Island chain will soon be shipping short-trip halibut, sable fish, and thorny rock. An old Navy outpost, Adak served as the first line of defense in the event of invasion during WWII. Buildings were virtually abandoned when the post was decommissioned, almost as though everyone left town overnight. Alaska Airlines sends two Combi (half passenger/half cargo) planes to Adak twice a week to pick up our cargo, provided the winds are not too fierce – and there are no non-windy days in Adak, nicknamed “home of the winds.”

Pacific cod fishing continues with strong numbers and advantageous prices. Frequent cod ads with our retail partners afford patrons a steady supply of this Pacific staple. Rock cod fishing has been limited to Canada primarily, but U.S. boats are starting to gear up for ground fishing in addition to halibut. Ask your sales rep about the whole red-banded rock, sebastes babcocki, we received yesterday. Pacific shallow water Dover sole is plentiful, but petrale has been somewhat short. Arrow tooth flounder and ocean perch have also been hit or miss. Sable fisherman, those not sourcing halibut, are fishing, and fresh is back on the Seattle Fish Co. menu. Further south, the California boys from San Jose and Bodega are gearing up for the salmon season, and as indicated, the season looks promising. San Diego offers corvina yellowtail, grouper, Mexican bays, and California halibut, which is always plentiful when the Alaska season opens – go figure. The beds off Cabrillo Point yield the finest urchin anywhere, and processed uni is always available, provided winds allow urchin diving.

We should see two or three more trips from our Mexican shrimp fishermen before the season wraps up. The new season begins in late September. Seattle Fish Co. carries all sizes of shell-on Mexican whites and some large value-added sizes. Globally, shrimp prices continue to trend downward, which is likely to continue through the second quarter.


Lobster prices have stabilized, but remain strong. At least the $.50/lb. weekly trend upward has stopped. Demand should wane in the coming weeks, but sourcing will still be a challenge. Relief will come later this spring. Seattle Fish Co. carries all sizes, graded, from culls to 3 lbs. Want a big boy? We can accommodate by special order. Scallop season is in full swing, and predictions are for a 13% to 19% increase in North Atlantic scallop supply for the year. Official NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) figures have not been released but the increase is up from 32 million pounds during the 2014-2015 harvest. Prices should remain stable this year with lower costs in the smaller sizes. The bargain of the week regarding fish this week is large rockfish, East Coast wild striped bass. Cut from 15 lb. and up, this usually premium offering can be on your special menu this week. Ask your sales rep for details. Monk fishing and other ground fish choices are adequate. The cod market continues to stay depressed, and flats are getting more reasonable. Jonah crab has long been considered a bycatch of the lobster industry, but as markets and demand have increased, so has concern that targeted fishing pressure will compromise sustainability of the fishery. A Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) is in place with a work group identified. Goals the group intends to accomplish by 2017 have been established.


The shellfish story on the East Coast is the weather. We have mussels the first part of this week, but the situation may get worse before it gets better. Boston has received a record 9 feet of snow this winter, and Prince Edward Island up to 16 feet. Ice harvesting in PEI is part of winter mussel harvest planning. In a normal winter, as the inland bays freeze over, a thick layer of ice forms and is usually smooth enough to support the heavy equipment required for harvest. This winter is dramatically different and very dangerous. Continuous storms have created layers of ice and deep pockets of water or icy slush. Each progressive storm freezes on top and acts as insulation for the slush. The enormous weight and frigid temperatures cause fracturing, creating extremely dangerous conditions. The surprise is that any mussels have been harvested. The entire northeast region is a major supplier of the U.S. shellfish industry, putting severe pressure on other areas, such as Penn Cove, which is currently out of mussels. Warmer weather is the only remedy. They could certainly use some of the fine Colorado golf weather we have been enjoying lately. The East Coast oyster harvest is slowly coming back to normal, easing heavy reliance on our West Coast suppliers. Oyster demand continues to stay strong, and Seattle Fish Co. shellfish experts can guide you in your selection. Hard-shell clams from our frozen friends in Dennis, Massachusetts, were finally able to be harvested, and your favorites are back in stock. Hopefully we will avoid further supply interruptions. Middle-neck clams from Florida are also available. Manila clams from the West Coast are plentiful, perfect for your quick opening pasta dishes. Specialty clams such as razor and chocolate clams have also made an appearance.


Gulf tuna fishing has been spotty lately, and boats docking at Dulac ports have limited catch. Midweek should show some improvement. Gulf Wild grouper is back this week with some volume, and our American Red Snapper fishermen are shipping all sizes of Reds. As always, our Gulf Wild partners provide information about where the fish are caught, who caught them, and name of their boat. Each Gulf Wild fish is individually tagged with numerical date found on mygulfwild.com. Mahi-mahi saw slight relief in pricing the past two weeks, but we are back on the high-priced summer trend. California yellowtail and Gulf amberjack are good substitutes for mahi. Our crab friends from Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, tell us they are starting to pick fresh Gulf crab again. We are looking for a better Gulf crab season this year, maybe a few first-of-the-season soft shells later in the spring. Live crawfish season is rolling, with crawfish packed in 30 lb. bags. If you are looking, make sure you pre-order with your rep.


Weekly orders from the Honolulu auction are landing in Denver, so get your fix of monchong opah, ono, tunas, albacore, and specialty ground fish such as Uku, onaga, and opakapaca. Need a beautiful 100 lb. whole display opah for your retail case? We can accommodate you. Hawaiian swordfish is starting to appear in more volume and with better pricing. Along with the red bloodline grade A fish, we often buy rows of swordfish that may have some shark bites or other flaws. We loin these fish, cut the flaws, trim the bloodline, and offer a perfect loin at preferred pricing. Ask your representative about our steak-ready swordfish loins. Hawaiian Kampachi is still struggling a bit but our orders have been steady, and the fish are growing. A bit of limited supply now will mean full harvests later.

Check out our Seattle Fish Co. website, seasonality guide and wild salmon guide to steer your planning needs.



Harry Mahlers

Harry Mahleres
Director of Purchasing

303-329-9595 ext. 121