2014 Alaska salmon sales as surprising as harvests


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
January 6, 2015

It turns out 2014 may not have been sockeye salmon’s year in Alaska after all.

New numbers for Alaska’s salmon sales in the May-to-August 2014 period show that unusual sales volumes made up for drastic changes in supply for key species such as sockeyes and pinks, proving that having more fish available doesn’t automatically translate into higher sales.

The latest Alaska Salmon Price Report released by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute covered all five species — chinook, sockeye, coho, chum and pink— during the critical period where more than 90 percent of the year’s fresh salmon sales activity takes place.

Sockeye salmon made headlines throughout the year by shattering harvest volume records. According to the report, sockeye harvests totaled 44 million fish in 2014, which represented a 49 percent increase over 2013. By contrast, chum harvests fell 40 percent in 2014 to 11 million fish and pink harvests totaled just over 95 million fish.

One might expect corresponding numbers from sales data from May to August 2014, but that didn’t happen. Frozen H&G sales for pink salmon were up more than 20 percent despite the low numbers available, and sales of frozen sockeye went down 24 percent. For fresh H&G, sockeye sales were up compared to 2013, but pink and keta sales volumes were much higher, suggesting customers are looking for a less expensive alternative to premium sockeye.

Other big differences included roe sales, which went down 55 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. Overall, total wholesale value for the period was flat, totaling USD 536 million (EUR 450.4 million).

It seems that even a glut of sockeye in the market couldn’t change the public’s perception of sockeye as a “high end” salmon, and even an off year didn’t make pink any less attractive.

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