Haddock supply stable for now
By John Snyder, SeafoodSource contributing editor
01 February, 2010 -
Fresh haddock buyers in the Northeast United States have been enjoying a fairly stable supply of fish this winter thanks to good weather and an unusually high concentration of schools, especially on Georges Bank. However, prices are primed to increase as winter storms develop, fishermen run out of fishing days and reduced Canadian quotas limit supplies.
Prices for large, whole haddock have been steady between USD 1.65 and 1.75 a pound, f.o.b. Boston, with scrod haddock hovering at around USD 1.55. In January, both large and scrod haddock fillets were in the low- to mid-USD 3 range.
On the frozen front, U.S. imports from Norway will be somewhat limited for the next several months as fishing efforts ended in late December 2009. According to one major importer of Norwegian haddock, the primary focus for fisherman now will be cod with haddock as an incidental catch.
Prices will be gradually increasing for H&G fish from USD 1.60 and probably settle out in the USD 1.80 range, said the importer.
Supply is also limited for the somewhat less-desirable trawler-caught fish. Most of this fish has been finding its way to Chinese markets where it ends up as twice-frozen product. Trawl-caught fish are currently priced at about USD 1.25, up from USD 1.05 in early December. A weak U.S. dollar has also contributed to the price increase for imports. European buyers are at a distinct advantage when competing with U.S. buyers and, consequently, considerable quantities of frozen-at-sea product have been finding their way there.
Because both the U.S. dollar and the British pound have devalued against Norway's krona, Norwegian fishermen are seeing a decline in their ex-vessel price and are less interested in pursuing haddock. The summer fishery, historically a fraction of the winter effort, promises somewhat higher prices because of the scarcity of fish, but those prices will be tempered by the poor quality and yield of summer fish. Retail prices for Norwegian FAS haddock fillets range between USD 6.50 and 7.
Expect boneless, skinless shatterpack haddock to be tagged in the mid-USD 3 range for 8- to 16-ounce and 16-32 fillets, and twice-frozen fillets in the mid-USD 2 range.
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