Grocers go wild for salmon as Bristol Bay hits record catch
U.S. supermarket chains that have been featuring wild Alaska salmon throughout the summer are now promoting Bristol Bay sockeye salmon after a record harvest.
The salmon harvest in Bristol Bay reached 46.6 million fish as of 11 July, the largest harvest since commercial fishing began in 1883, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Earlier this summer, ADFG predicted a run of 73.4 million sockeye salmon, the largest inshore run ever, with a potential harvest of over 61 million salmon.
“This is going to be an incredibly abundant year for wild sustainable Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, thanks to our track record of responsible fishery stewardship,” Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association Marketing Director Lilani Dunn said.
U.S. grocery chains, which have already been promoting Copper River and Prince William Sound salmon throughout the summer, are now gearing up for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon promotions.
Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon, the consumer-facing brand managed by BBRSDA, has teamed up with major retailers such as Publix, Whole Foods Market, and Quality Food Centers, to market the salmon in more than 3,200 stores across the U.S.
Bellevue, Washington-based Quality Food Centers (QFC) is highlighting Bristol Bay and Copper River sockeye salmon on the front page of its circular, along with stickers on packages, aprons, hats, and point-of-sale materials.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market is highlighting Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon online with the BBSS logo and in their stores nationwide.
Matthews, North Carolina-based Harris Teeter is partnering with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to promote Bristol Bay salmon in more than 120 grocery store demonstrations in their Southeast U.S. stores, Dunn said.
“This promotion features in-store chefs preparing sample recipes for customers, as well as branded aprons and point-of-sale collateral,” she noted.
Kendall Jackson and Jackson Family Wines will have in-store displays featuring a QR code directing customers to Bristol Bay sockeye salmon recipes in its Safeway Seattle Seafood Stack program in July, Dunn told SeafoodSource.
H-E-B is using recipe cards, branded aprons, point-of-sale materials, and hats to promote the salmon in its stores across Texas. Cleveland, Ohio-based Heinen’s is also promoting Bristol Bay salmon with with recipe cards, posters, case clings, ice signs, branded aprons, and circulars.
However, Thibodaux, Louisiana-based Rouses and QFC have opted to wait until prices came down to bring the fish into stores.
“Customers really balked at the price this year for the opener. It was the first time we really saw that happen,” QFC Meat and Seafood Merchandiser Adam Branin told SeafoodSource. “In years past, that opener created so much excitement, it didn’t seem to matter the price; our customers were buying it up.”
As a result, Branin temporarily halted orders until costs came down USD 10.00 (EUR 9.84) or more per pound.
“Thankfully, the cost did come off and we were able to drive retail [prices] down to much more reasonable levels,” Branin said.
Once QFC began promoting Copper River salmon, sales skyrocketed, according to Branin. The retailer featured Copper River sockeye for USD 12.99 (EUR 12.79) a pound for one week on the front page of its circular, followed by another week at USD 10.99 (EUR 10.82) per pound on the front page.
“We sold more salmon in those two weeks than we ever have sold in that timeframe,” Branin said.
Early in the season, there’s “never enough to meet retail demand and of course that naturally impacts pricing,” Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association Executive Director Christa Hoover told SeafoodSource.
Hy-Vee is “among the best in class” in telling the story of Prince William Sound and Copper River salmon, according to Hoover.
“Every year, they build on the story in an even bigger way. Seasonal consistency helps their seafood staff develop a better basis of knowledge of our region,” she said. “That confidence and depth of understanding builds confidence with Hy-Vee’s customers who rely on seafood staff to make informed decisions about the seafood they choose to cook at home.”
The retailer aggressively promoted wild Alaskan salmon, along with shrimp, snow crab, and Dungeness crab for the Fourth of July holiday, Hy-Vee Vice President of Meat and Seafood Jason Pride said.
Photo courtesy of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association