Haddock buyers handling smaller fish
Foodservice buyers who have haddock on their buying list are running into problems lately. The North American haddock this year are running small, yet fish from Norway are running large. A reduction in the ideal plate-size fillet, coupled with Lenten season demand, means haddock prices are going up.
"The foodservice business wants natural whole fillets that are plate-presentable. There is a big demand for a 4-ounce, 5-ounce or 6-ounce fillets," Kevin Bradley, director of Asia operations for distributor Tradex Foods in Victoria, British Columbia, told SeafoodSource.
However, much of the haddock being harvested is smaller than what buyers are looking for. "The Canadian quota is high, but the biomass is very large," said Brian Robinson, sales manager for processor Bristol Seafood in Portland, Maine. "The fish are so small. Whereas we would normally have 8 to 12-ounce fillets, we now have around 3.5-ounce fillets."
The Gloucester- New Bedford, Mass., market is also seeing "extremely small" fish, including a new grade called snapper haddock, said Robinson . While buyers were seeing a value on snapper haddock early this year at between USD .50 (EUR 0.36) and USD .80 (EUR .58) a pound FOB for 70-80 ct., prices have risen to high USD 1.00 (EUR 0.73), according to Robinson.
Prices on the larger haddock have been rising since January as well. Scrod haddock is averaging USD 2.20 (EUR 1.60) per pound FOB, while the 3.5-5 pound haddock is going for between USD 2.90 (EUR 2.11) and USD 3.20 (EUR 2.33) a pound.
"North American processed product has taken quite a bit of a hike in price. It was actually quite low two months ago, slightly more than Chinese imported frozen prices," Bradley said. Imported frozen Chinese haddock is now averaging between USD 4.00 (EUR 2.91) and USD 4.25 (EUR 3.09) a pound wholesale, versus USD 4.35 (EUR 3.16) a pound wholesale for 4-ounce to 8-ounce fillets out of Canada, according to Bradley.
Norwegian haddock buyers are also having trouble finding the right size fillets, so prices have risen. "The Norwegian fish is quite large. They are running short with the small product," Bradley said. "The 5-ounce fillet provides a huge presentation, battered or breaded, on the plate."
Distributors expect North American haddock sizes and pricing to even out starting this fall. "After they thin the fishery out a bit in Canada, we should start to see the size of the fish increase. Through 2016, we will see good-sized haddock again," Robinson said.