With the holiday season coming into full swing in December, retail suppliers of wild Alaska seafood both online and in local shops say sales are on par with a year ago and they are upbeat about a good season.
Seafood retailers queried in mid-November had a wide variety of product available, from whole fish fresh and frozen to ready to eat entrees, but for harvesters concerned about low prices for wild Alaska salmon there was a bit of a silver lining on the cloud of the low pay received for fish delivered in season.
“The bad news is we have low prices, but the good news is it’s moving,” said Andy Wink, seafood market analyst for The McDowell Group, in Juneau, Alaska, which tracks seafood prices under industry contracts.
Exports of sockeye salmon, from canned, fillets and roe to frozen headed and gutted, were up 50 percent this year, Wink said. Hopefully at decent prices, but ideally for fishermen it is getting it sold, and in that regard we have seen some positive developments, he said.
The impact of a large Bristol Bay harvest, plus sockeye harvests from other areas of Alaska, plus lower harvests in Russia and Canada prompted an early bit of a move on sales of frozen product, he said.
Retailers said orders were coming in at mid-November for the holidays but expected them to pick up considerably after Thanksgiving.
In Southcentral Alaska meanwhile, groceries have been offering specials like $9.99 a pound for sockeye salmon fillets, and Alaska caught king crab for $19.99 a pound.
Anchorage’s 10th & M Seafoods, which does big business in red king crab for the holidays, was posting a price of $23.95 a pound for Alaska caught red king crab, plus package and shipping costs. Other holiday best sellers there include sockeye salmon fillets, king salmon fillets and gift packs. Spokeswoman Abigail Faiivae said customers from the Lower 48 states were already placing orders for holiday gifts.
Online selections from Peninsula Processing and Smokehouse at Soldotna, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula include everything from giant king crab legs and claws – four pounds for $179 delivered – to the three pound smoked salmon variety pack for $89.95 including shipping.
The popular Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle also has a wide selection choice, and it’s most popular holiday item is the Northwest gift pack, which this year includes Canadian frozen at sea coho salmon, smoked wild Alaska king salmon, and local Dungeness crab and crab cakes, with cocktail sauce and spices, said Chris Bell, a company spokesman. The gift pack ships anywhere in the Lower 48 for $230 total.