American Seafoods CCO Rasmus Sørensen: 2024 shaping up to be a recovery year for surimi

"Price stabilization – especially on surimi – has to happen, and it has to happen soon.”
American Seafoods CCO Rasmus Sørensen
American Seafoods CCO Rasmus Sørensen | Photo courtesy of American Seafoods
6 Min

Alaska pollock fishers enjoyed a successful year in 2023, with the sector specifically targeting the bountiful 2018 and 2019 classes of fish, which have added weight and have reached an optimal size on average of 600 to 650 grams, according to American Seafoods Chief Commercial Officer Rasmus Sørensen. 

“It is still early in the season, but the positive fishing trends from last year definitely seem to have continued into 2024,” Sørensen said.

The Alaska pollock catching sector called for an increase in total allowable catch (TAC), but it will remain nearly level at 1.35 million metric tons (MT) in 2024, with a small uptick in this year’s Gulf of Alaska TAC of about 23,000 MT.

“The Alaska biomass continues to be very healthy; it could support a much bigger TAC, but because of Alaska’s overall 2-million-MT groundfish harvest cap, 1.3 to 1.4 million MT is the TAC level that we will see most years," Sørensen said at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum (NASF) in Bergen, Norway,

Though catches were strong in 2023, it was a very different story when it came to market and product demand, Sørensen said.

“Higher global supply, combined with softening demand, sprinkled with higher levels of general uncertainty really started to kick in, and the markets got nervous,” Sørensen said. “No one knew what to think of the situation or what to expect, and consequently, buyers were hesitant to place orders, which almost immediately led to swelling inventories.”

At the same time, the war in Ukraine led to more sanctions against Russia, which again made it hard for Russian suppliers to find buyers for their products, leading to further price pressure – especially for surimi, he said.

American Seafoods had a positive market outlook for 2023, but the surimi market then took an “unexpected turn for the worse” in the second half of the year, Sørensen said. While block prices and surimi prices had already softened somewhat in 2022, 2023 turned out to be a “surimi disaster year” for the Alaska pollock industry, Sørensen said.

“During last fall, surimi prices dropped below production cost levels and caused financial headaches for our industry," he said. "Many [companies] had to make very tough business decisions to get through a very rough second half of 2023.”

Because of the unsustainable low prices, global surimi production decreased last year, particularly affecting ... 

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500
Primary Featured Article