AK salmon market “hard to predict,” experts say

Global angst, currency exchange rates, inflation, rumors of fish in the freezers = a jittery salmon market.

by | June 6, 2022

Filed Under Markets

Fewer AK salmon, Russia sanctions, US $ surge, fillet holdovers?

Alaska sockeye salmon

More salmon fisheries are opening across Alaska and will run into the fall in many regions.

The total statewide Alaska salmon harvest for 2022 is projected at 160.6 million fish. That compares to nearly 235 million salmon last year.

It’s still too early to get a good sense of salmon pricing. But Alaska’s fish competes in a global market and all kinds of heebie jeebies are going on.

Credit: Martin Luther Newman

“It is safe to say that this year will be a year like no other, as Alaska is forecasting for 73 million LESS fish than was harvested in 2021, and war-sanctions on Russia could potentially prohibit 315,000 metric tons (almost 700 million pounds) of Russian origin salmon from entering North America,” said Rob Reierson, president and CEO of Tradex.

Andy Wink, director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, agreed.

“Presently, it’s a hard market to predict with the Russian conflict likely bringing in more buying pressure from Japan and Korea. But some buyers may be waiting to see what sort of inventory remains from the 2021 season. Demand is likely to stay strong, but at what prices remains to be seen,” Wink said.

Reflecting back on 2021, Reierson said “It was a year that salmon in the wholesale market was always short, and demand at the consumer level was extremely high as seafood sales reached new highs. Now with consumers battling inflation, providing value through quality could be the key to a winning formula this year. Consumers will want their dollar to go as far as possible.”

“Do your due diligence on quality this year, Reierson said, adding: “Rumor has it that there is an oversupply of last year’s Sockeye fillets that may get dumped into the market soon.”

Surging dollar value boosts salmon prices for foreign buyers

“The greenback’s climb is being fueled by rising interest rates in the United States, which boosts interest from foreign investors eager to net higher returns,” said CNN’s Julia Horowitz in Before the Bell. “And while US recession risks are increasing, economic conditions look much more solid than in Europe, which has greater exposure to the war in Ukraine, and in China, which is only just starting to lift strict coronavirus restrictions in big cities.”

Horowitz added: “Dollar strength is a sign of confidence in the US economy. But it also has consequences for American firms with a global footprint, making it harder for customers in other countries to afford their products, and reducing the value of international sales and profits.”

That includes Alaska salmon.

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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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