Mackerel prices high on low supply

Published on
February 13, 2014

Buyers are paying more for North American mackerel, thanks to lower catches for the season that wrapped up in December.

“It was a pretty poor season out of Canada. This winter we have fewer loads [of Canadian mackerel], and the sizes are running a lot smaller,” Peter Bruno, sales manager for distributor Great Northern Products, told SeafoodSource.

Only 7,431 tons of Canadian mackerel was harvested of the 36,000 ton allowable catch, according to Rob Reierson, CEO of distributor Tradex Foods. “Current inventories of Canadian mackerel are very low and prices reflect the shortage,” Reierson said.

“The situation in the United States not much better with U.S. processors also reporting low inventory holdings and low harvest to date,” Reierson said. The U.S. landed around 4,406.9 metric tons (MT) in 2013, while the 2013 quota was 33,821 MT.

Another big problem is that the mackerel sizes are not ideal. “We are getting 300-400 gram product and we prefer 500-600 gram product. We like the smokers to have the 600-800 gram product,” Bruno said.

Demand for Atlantic mackerel is strong and prices are running between USD 1.10 (EUR 0.08) and USD 1.40 (1.02) a pound wholesale, depending on the size, compared to prices of between USD .90 (EUR 0.66) and USD 1 (EUR 0.73) per pound last year.

“There is always big demand. If we would have had more product this year, the demand is there to suck it up,” Bruno said.

While the European mackerel fisheries are coming on strong, sizes are also running fairly small. “Japanese buyers get first shot of everything coming out of Iceland and Norway, but that product this time of year is still running very small. They usually wait until the fish go from small to a really valuable size,” Bruno said.

Meanwhile, the 2013-2014 California mackerel total allowable catch is set for 39,268 MT with harvest to date of 7,191 MT. “Processors are reporting no significant catch of japonicus mackerel at the moment with strong demand,” Reierson said.

Contributing Editor

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