Frozen sockeye salmon surplus prompts promotion push by retailers

Salmon suppliers and distributors are scrambling to use up frozen inventories from last year.

by | April 14, 2023

Filed Under Markets | Salmon

Prices decline as buyers look to another huge harvest for 2023

From Christine Blank, SeafoodSource, April 13, 2023

Costco, Whole Foods, Albertson’s, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and QFC are among the retailers offering sockeye specials, according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

The sockeye catch from Bristol Bay was 46 percent higher than its previous five-year average in 2022, bringing in a haul of more than 60 million fish. The total sockeye salmon run in Bristol Bay surpassed 76 million fish last season, setting an all-time record. Alaska-wide, the sockeye catch was up 36 percent year-over-year compared to 2021, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The surfeit of salmon has resulted in a quandary for suppliers, distributors, and others needing to use up last year’s inventory, as they face down the projection of another huge sockeye season in 2023. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game expects 189 million total salmon to be harvested across the state this year, up from 163.2 million last season – including 122 million pink salmon, 48 million sockeye salmon, 16 million chum salmon, and 3 million coho salmon.

As a result of the surplus and the expectation more salmon is on the way, the average price per pound of wild sockeye salmon at U.S. grocery stores is down 7 percent since early 2022, compared to an increase of 12 percent for farmed Atlantic salmon fillets, BBRSDA said, citing Urner Barry Retail Features data.

“This means there is an abundance of wild sockeye available at retailers across the country, with many offering deals as we head into the 2023 harvest this summer,” BBRSDA Marketing Director Lilani Dunn said. “As shoppers may be seeing inflated prices for other sources of protein, wide availability and deals on wild sockeye salmon at retailers … lend even more appeal to America’s favorite fish.”

Retailers are pushing to emphasize the affordability of wild salmon in light of overall salmon prices jumping 9 percent in the 13 weeks ending 4 February, according to data from NielsenIQ powered by Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Category Partners. The higher prices have resulted in year-over-year sales volumes of fresh salmon plummeting by 2.4 million pounds and frozen sales dropping by 3.6 million pounds in the period.

Read more from SeafoodSource here

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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