Deliveries of wild Alaska salmon to processors reached nearly 236 million fish as of Aug. 25, exceeding the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s forecast by more than 15 million fish, and the pink salmon forecast alone by upwards of 26 million fish.
The humpy harvest alone stood at 166.6 million fish. Processors had also received some 503,000 kings, 13.7 million chums, 2.4 million silvers and 52.6 million reds.
The sockeye, chum and silver harvests have all fallen short of the predicted catch.
Still, with the overall abundance of harvest, the challenge lies in marketing.
Supermarkets in Southcentral Alaska were advertising fresh fillets of wild sockeye salmon at $9.99 a pound this week, down from $16.99 a pound, plus fresh wild silver fillets for $10.99 a pound, down from $14.9 a pound, plus whole cohos for $8.99 a pound, down from $13.99 a pound. Canned pink and red salmon products were also being offered at about 30 cents to 40 cents off per can, but those discounts were posted only on store shelves and not in store advertisements.
An extremely strong dollar, especially with the fall of China’s currency, and Russian’s ban on importation of US foods, poses difficulties, said Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Russia is also normally a strong market for salmon roe.
The Russian embargo on most foods from the European Union also has added competition from farmed salmon from Norway and Iceland against Alaska’s wild salmon. “They are going after the same markets we are, and production of famed salmon is getting lose to an all-time high,” Fick said.
ASMI’s current goal is to develop new markets overseas and domestically, with the domestic effort focused on creating new salmon fans who will support America’s fishermen, Fick said. ASMI’s marketing efforts focused on fresh sockeye salmon in June and July, then switched to silver salmon promotions for August and September, and coming up in October, coinciding with National Seafood Month, will be promotions of frozen fish that can be prepared quickly for meals.
ASMI is also working with distributors like Cisco to address the food service side of the industry, Fick said. “We wouldn’t have the ability to go to every single restaurant. We would hope to give (distributors) the tools to be successful on their sales calls.