Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Demand, Growing Markets Bode Well for Salmon Harvest

Increasing demand for both wild and farmed salmon bode well for harvesters in 2011, with new markets in Eastern Europe, Russia, China and South America, says a University of Alaska Anchorage economist who studies the seafood industry.

The general picture is favorable for most product forms and all species except for pinks, in the event that there is a very large harvest of pinks, said Gunnar Knapp. And even if the pink numbers reduced prices somewhat, it would not be in a catastrophic way, Knapp said.

Large inventory carryovers are not a problem facing the industry this year, he said.

In Japan, in particular, a lot of product was lost as a result of the earthquake and tsunami and there is a need to make up for fish that had been there and disappeared.

Secondly, in the case of Japan, a major producer of hatchery chum salmon, it is believed that there were significant losses in infrastructure and equipment used in the Japanese chum salmon fishery, and this will help Alaska’s chum salmon markets, for both flesh and ikura, Knapp said.

Beyond Japan, there are significant domestic markets and European markets for sockeye salmon fillets. The falling value of the US dollar and rising value of the euro and yen also help the market for Alaska salmon, he said.

The main story is that for sockeye, Alaska’s most valuable species, we have seen over the past decade diversification in product form, and developed significant domestic and European markets for sockeye salmon fillets, and that demand is growing, he said.

Chile’s emergence from a dramatic decline in farmed Atlantic salmon production due to disease problems will add to available fish, but most people feel the demand has grown so much that there is unlikely to be a world market glut in salmon like the one a decade ago that contributed to the economic crisis in Alaska salmon markets, he said.

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