Change afoot in frozen sockeye salmon market
By Nicki Holmyard, SeafoodSource contributing editor
11 January, 2010 -
Change is afoot in Alaska's frozen sockeye salmon market. For one, export patterns are shifting. Traditionally, the bulk of Alaska's frozen sockeye production was exported directly to Japan. In 2004, Japan represented 68 percent of frozen sockeye exports between January and September.
By 2007, that figure had dipped to 28 percent. Though it has since leveled off at 45 percent in 2008 and 44 percent in 2009, frozen sockeye exports are migrating from Japan to cheaper labor markets like China, where they're re-exported to Japan.
Also, sales patterns are shifting. It's apparent the market for frozen H&G sockeye is firming. May-to-August sales plunged from 66 percent of annual sales in 2004 to just 36 percent by 2007.
But as Japan looks to frozen H&G sockeye to fill the supply gap left by farmed coho from Chile due to the production shortfall there, May-to-August sales rebounded to 45 percent of annual sales in 2008 to 54 percent this year.
What's more, the average ex-vessel value of sockeye has increased from USD 0.60 a pound in 2004 to USD 0.84 in 2008 and USD 0.80 in 2009, which also implies that the market for frozen H&G sockeye is firming.
What remains unchanged is the health of Alaska's sockeye fisheries. According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery, which accounts for two-thirds to three-quarters of the state's total sockeye catch, yielded 30.9 million fish this year — the seventh largest haul on record.
Expect next year's haul to be about the same as this year's. ADF&G is calling for a 2010 Bristol Bay sockeye harvest of 30.5 million fish.
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