A US Department of Agriculture decision to purchase $20 million in canned wild Alaska pink salmon will benefit food banks around the country and stabilize the market for processors of a record breaking 2013 harvest of Alaska humpies.
Bruce Schactler, of Kodiak, who coordinates the food aid program for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association, said the timing of the USDA’s announcement in mid-January could not have come at a better time for the industry and its recipient consumers. The purchase will help to stabilize the market and the price structure that producers and the coastal communities of Alaska depend on, said Schactler, and supply more than 60 million meals to families in need.
Alaska fish harvested brought in a record wild salmon harvest this past year, and nearly 80 percent of that harvest was humpies.
Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, applauded the deal.
Murkowski said she initially encouraged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to consider using Emergency Food Assistance Program funds to provide health food for Americans in need, to give food banks and their partners greater access to a wide variety of tasty, health food.
Begich noted that the USDA decision to spend $20 million on canned Alaska pink salmon compared with purchases in past years of $5 million to $10 million.
This latest purchase will help ease overstocked supplies following the record harvest, and benefit fishermen by reducing inventories that have weighed salmon prices down on the market, he said.
ASMI spokesmen meanwhile are continuing their effort to encourage use of pink salmon in domestic and international food aid programs because of its nutrition value, as a source of protein, omega-3 oils, calcium, selenium, phosphorous and potassium.