Arctic char on the rise
By Mercedes Grandin, SeafoodSource contributing editor
27 April, 2009 -
Following a post-Easter lull, demand for Arctic char and other grill-friendly fish is expected to strengthen as summer nears.
As a result, Arctic char imports are expected to increase in May and June. The world gets the bulk of its Arctic char from Iceland and northern Canada. Iceland is the world's No. 1 Arctic char producer, with annual exports totaling 1,700 metric tons. The country's annual output is projected to expand to 5,000 metric tons metric tons in the coming years.
There's always a supply hiccup around Easter when European production shuts down for a few days in observation of the holiday. But demand increases in the late spring and early summer when consumers bust out their grills, similar to salmon and trout.
"Demand has been more consistent as char has been menued in more restaurants and offered in more retail locations," said Eric Kaiser, president of Aquanor Marketing in Boston. "There has been a change in Arctic char availability for other suppliers but not necessarily for us. We expect to see increases in exports over the next couple of months."
As supplies become more consistent, so do prices. Wholesale Arctic char prices have remained flat over the past year, and can range from $6.75 to $8.85 a pound.
Arctic char, a cousin of salmon and trout, is becoming more popular at restaurants and retail outlets in North America and Europe. The oily fish has a green profile - the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program recently added farmed Arctic char to its "best choices" list of sustainable seafood species, due to its moderate use of marine resources for fish feed and minimal risk of escape into the wild.
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