With Alaska sockeye salmon in abundance, frozen stockpiles lead Costco, Trader Joe's to launch promotions

Published on
April 13, 2023
Sockeye salmon on sale at Trader Joe's.

Due to a surplus from last year’s record season, a number of U.S. grocery and club chains are running promotions on Alaskan sockeye salmon.

Costco, Whole Foods, Albertsons, Trader Joes, Kroger, and QFC are among the retailers offering sockeye specials, according to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

The sockeye catch from Bristol Bay was 46 percent higher than its previous five-year average in 2022, bringing in a haul of more than 60 million fish. The total sockeye salmon run in Bristol Bay surpassed 76 million fish last season, setting an all-time record. Alaska-wide, the sockeye catch was up 36 percent year-over-year compared to 2021, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The surfeit of salmon has resulted in a quandary for suppliers, distributors, and others needing to use up last year’s inventory, as they face down the projection of another huge sockeye season in 2023. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game expects 189 million total salmon to be harvested across the state this year, up from 163.2 million last season – including 122 million pink salmon, 48 million sockeye salmon, 16 million chum salmon, and 3 million coho salmon.

As a result of the surplus and the expectation more salmon is on the way, the average price per pound of wild sockeye salmon at U.S. grocery stores is down 7 percent since early 2022, compared to an increase of 12 percent for farmed Atlantic salmon fillets, BBRSDA said, citing Urner Barry Retail Features data.

This means there is an abundance of wild sockeye available at retailers across the country, with many offering deals as we head into the 2023 harvest this summer,” BBRSDA Marketing Director Lilani Dunn said. “As shoppers may be seeing inflated prices for other sources of protein, wide availability and deals on wild sockeye salmon at retailers … lend even more appeal to Americas favorite fish.”

Retailers are pushing to emphasize the affordability of wild salmon in light of overall salmon prices jumping 9 percent in the 13 weeks ending 4 February, according to data from NielsenIQ powered by Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Category Partners. The higher prices have resulted in year-over-year sales volumes of fresh salmon plummeting by 2.4 million pounds and frozen sales dropping by 3.6 million pounds in the period.

Promotions being run across the country include Amazon Fresh offering a free 12-ounce Bristol Bay sockeye salmon filet to customers who spend more than USD 100 (EUR 91.55). And Bellevue, Washington, U.S.A.-based Quality Food Centers (QFC) recently had Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fillets on special for USD 8.99 (EUR 8.24) a pound.

Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.-based Costco is promoting its Kirkland Signature wild Alaskan sockeye salmon for USD 44.99 (EUR 41.00) per 3-pound bag of 5- to 7-ounce portions. It is also touting Northwest Fish’s wild Alaskan sockeye fillets for USD 219.99 (EUR 201.00) per 10-pound bag. Additionally, as part of its ongoing partnership with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Costco is running in-store and digital promotions on Alaska sockeye salmon. The club store chain is highlighting frozen and refreshed sockeye salmon with a recipe and cooking demonstration provided by celebrity chef Randy Altig in its Costco Quick and Easy video series.

ASMI’s communications program is also working

Photo courtesy of RYO Alexandre/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor



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