October is Seafood Month, but it could be dubbed “Farmed Atlantic Salmon Month” this year. Volume and lower prices are available in all sectors. Chilean prices fell again after a slight cost uptick the previous week. Norway and Scotland followed the march downward as larger sizes are becoming more available. The retail sector is taking advantage of market conditions by offering significant price discounts through ads. Current market conditions should prevail for the next month. All our farms are GAP or BAP certified and third-party audited to ensure compliance with best practice. Seattle Fish Co. takes delivery of four to five large salmon containers directly from our farming partners in Norway and Scotland weekly. Over-the-road refrigerated truck lines pick up farmed salmon from pristine Canadian farm sites. These salmon are processed locally and whisked directly to our Denver dock. If you have ever been to Campbell River, Canada, the meaning of “pristine” is evident. This is where the Skuna Bay farms are located; these farms are clean, unobtrusive, and well managed, and have reached 4-Star BAP status. This is where our premium Skuna Bay Craft-Raised Atlantic Salmon comes from. Fish are harvested live daily, gill bled, and shipped a short distance to the Walcan processing facility. While all these salmon are premium-grade, only the special fish meeting all checkpoint criteria make the final cut. Skuna Bay salmon are then packed three to a thermal-lined, completely recyclable box and personally signed by the packer to guarantee quality. Sign up and pre-order your Skuna Bay salmon today.
The wild season is rapidly winding down, but coho salmon and Johnstone Strait chums dominate the wild scene this week. Fear not, Seattle Fish Co. will have wild salmon all winter. Look for our refreshed sockeye salmon fillets coming soon. Don’t care for frozen salmon? Well, look again. Our process takes sockeye directly from the water at the height of the season from daily tenders. This is not fish that has been sitting for days; it is daily catch. Sockeyes are headed, gutted, sealed in Cryovac, and immediately slush-ice-water frozen. The freezing process is almost instantaneous, maintaining cell integrity. The fish are then slowly thawed and cut to order; they’re as good or better than fresh.
Red trout from our Idaho farms is still in short supply for large sizes, but the situation will be remedied shortly. We expect production from our Utah farm later this week. Supply for the busy holiday season should be excellent. Our Colorado trout connection is growing, and even though prices are somewhat higher, our homegrown product is worth the buy. Ask your sales rep for details today.
U.S. farm-raised catfish is king, and the largest and best catfish processor in the country is the only BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice) certified plant in the country. That processor happens to be the exclusive distributor to Seattle Fish Co. in the region. This certification is especially pleasing to our major retail chain. Quality is the key factor, however. Always clean tasting, never brackish, catfish should be on every menu. Versatile and inexpensive, U.S. farm-raised catfish is the ticket.
With a month left in the Alaska halibut season, fishermen are getting their last pound of flesh. Prices continue to firm as dwindling supply is scarcely keeping up with demand. Relief for the balance of the season seems unlikely. When the fresh season ends in November, we will begin our very successful halibut refresh program. Proper freezing and thawing techniques allow us to provide a superior previously frozen halibut fillet. Some boats are turning to ground fishing as wild salmon dwindles. Our supply of shallow water Dover sole, petrale sole, and rockfish is building. Weather will be the primary volume sticking point as we head toward winter. Need a special fish this week? Ask your sales associate about whole Splitnose Rockfish. Green rated by Seafood Watch for full sustainability, Splitnose came to us directly from FV Fishhawk in Neah Bay, Washington. Another treat is a small by-catch of hook-and-line ling cod. Seattle Fish Co. is committed to sustainability and will offer as many species from well-managed fisheries as possible.
The very well-managed King Crab fishery opens in Alaska October 15, but buying a case of king crab this year will set you back. The Bering Sea King Crab quota was set October 7, and the quota decrease was not as much as expected. Even though quota numbers are not down, competition from Asian countries, primarily China, will keep crab prices high. Value is still out there for the discerning buyer. Seattle Fish Co. has secured a significant volume of quality large crab at preferred pricing; we’ll have more than enough to fulfill your holiday needs. Ask your sales expert to hook you up. In other shell-on crab news, the Alaskan snow crab quota is set at 5 million pounds, down 20% from 2014. Dungeness sections remain very high, and the whole cooked Dungeness crab market is historically high. We are getting offers of ocean run and 2 lb. Dungies; ask us if you are interested.
San Diego is getting sparse fresh fish from the Baja Peninsula and Mexico. Dry Mexican Bay scallops are available with limited amounts of halibut and white sea bass. California yellowtail seems to be extinct at this time. Most boats and pongas are fishing shrimp with the Mexican season in full swing. We expect our first load of Mexican shell-on white shrimp very soon. The bay season has not shown much promise, but the ocean shrimpers seem to be faring better. Prices look to be similar to last season. When we know, you will know. Globally, FDA’s imported shrimp refusals were down in September. Producers seem to be getting the message: NO illegal antibiotic residues in our shrimp. Over 87% of all the shrimp rejected this year were a result of antibiotics.
The cod fishery, standard bearer of the New England fishery for decades, has been decimated in recent years. On the flip side, conservation measures seem to have worked; cod has been removed from the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) fish-to-avoid list. Cod is off the red list, but not out of the woods. Conservation measures will have to continue to ensure future viability and sustainability of the fishery. Eastern haddock, sole, and pollock supply is adequate against moderate demand, but large monk tails are short, in demand, and carrying a very high price tag. Volumes should start to increase in early November when the gill net boat season opens. Outlook for wild black bass and striped bass is not rosy this winter. Quotas have been cut, and availability is sparse. Available stripers at this time are small and fairly expensive. We anticipate a better push for larger fish from the mid-Atlantic in December. Another fishery we do not mention often but is on every menu is squid. A frigid winter last year is taking its toll, and slow production the past few months bodes ill for the holiday season. In fact, squid is short worldwide. California landed less than 20% of quota this year, and squid out of China, Thailand, and Peru are becoming problematic.
The scallop season is 75% complete; fishing was halted due to the hurricane watch last week, but landings are increasing. Since June, the biggest month for landings by far, numbers have fallen, especially for U-10s and larger. As scallop prices continue upward through the balance of the season, value will remain in the smaller sizes. The Jonah crab season is moving along and should be in full swing by the end of October. The New England lobster fishery is thriving, especially for fishermen, who are reaping profits. Catch is at near-record abundance levels. Why, you may ask, are prices for processed lobsters increasing exponentially if there is so much volume? Businesses in the supply chain have done an excellent job in the distribution chain, and consumers are demanding lobster products, causing some void in supply, especially for lobster meat, so prices have soared. The live market has remained steady, but expect some increases during heavy holiday demand.
The height of the oyster season is around the corner, and Seattle Fish Co., as usual, will offer the finest variety from the East Coast and the West Coast. As many different oysters as we offer, there are only five edible species in North America:
- Eastern (crassostrea virginica)
- Pacific (crassostrea gigas)
- Kumamoto (crassostrea sikamea)
- European Flat (ostrea edulis)
- Olympia (ostrea conchaphila/lurida)
Seattle Fish Co. will find the perfect flavor profile you prefer. Oysters get their flavor or “merrier” from the surrounding waters or topography, much like fine wine. Looking for that blast of brine? Look toward our East Coast selections. If your preference is a smoother, creamier profile with a hint of cucumber finish, try an oyster from the West Coast. Mussels from the U.S. and Prince Edward Island, Canada, are getting fatter and more flavorful. Our large premium mussels from Bangs Island in Casco, Maine, will be back in the fold soon. Mussels, like all shellfish, need proper care to thrive. Hard-shell clams from Dennis, Massachusetts, are ample. Our clams are always consistent, packed in exact count bags for our retail and foodservice customers. You’ll always know your food cost when you buy clams from Seattle Fish Co. Manila clams are finally getting healthy and more abundant. During the rough manila clam season, an admirable quick-popping substitute is cockles from New Zealand. Chocolate clams are also available with a special order. Make Seattle Fish Co. your only shellfish stop.
Gulf tuna boats are coming back empty or not fishing at all due to weather. Supply will likely stay tight until week’s end unless a boat or two head to our Dulac, Louisiana, docks. Swordfish from all global ports is in good supply and price, and while it is slightly up from previous weeks, it remains a bargain. Mahi is also trending downward as the winter season gears up. Retailers are looking to run mahi ads, offering customers preferred pricing. Need a solid fish for your winter menu? Add mahi. Gulf Wild American Red Snapper is arriving daily, and fishermen coming back to port from short trips are shipping superior-quality snappers. American Reds are always excellent, and we offer large-size scaled skin-on fillets or pan-size fish for your whole-fish tableside presentation. Grouper and tilefish have also been readily available.
The Hawaiian auction has been dominated by by-catch lately. Opah prices have come down, but tunas remain firm for quality fish. Marlin and monchong are reasonable, along with spearfish (hebi) and mako shark. Numbers at the auction have been adequate. Our buyers look for high-volume days to offer Seattle Fish Co. the best offerings. Fresh Hawaiian shipments arrive weekly. Have you tried our Hawaiian Kampachi, exclusive to Seattle Fish Co. in our Rocky Mountain region? This deep-sea ocean-farmed fish is harvested weekly under exacting conditions and specifications. Freshness, texture, and taste are unmatched. Add Hawaiian Kampachi to your fall and winter menus.
Please check out our website for weekly news, updates, and specials in addition to our seafood seasonality guide.
Director of Purchasing