Value of Alaska salmon up this summer

The wholesale value of Alaska salmon during the May-to-August season reached USD 447 million (EUR 296.4 million) this year, up 10 percent from last year, according to figures gathered by the Alaska Department of Revenue and released by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute on Thursday.

The figures come nearly three weeks after the Alaska Department of Fish & Game reported that Alaska’s preliminary 2009 salmon catch totaled 161.7 million fish, up 15 million fish from 2008.

While the value of frozen H&G fish and fresh and frozen fillets increased and the value of fresh H&G fish held firm, the value of canned product dropped this year.

Frozen H&G fish saw the greatest increase in value, up 43 percent to USD 191 million (EUR 126.7 million) in 2009. The increase is attributed to higher sales volume and ex-vessel prices for sockeye and higher sales volume for pink and chum.

The value of fresh and frozen fillets also jumped, up 35 percent to USD 64 million (EUR 42.4 million) in 2009, while the value of H&G fresh fish held steady at USD 66 million (EUR 43.8 million).

However, the market for canned Alaska salmon is ailing. The value of canned salmon fell 24 percent to USD 67 million (EUR 44.4 million) in 2009. Average case prices were up sharply, particularly for pink, but the increase was offset by lower sales volume for pink and sockeye.

Canned pink sales slipped from 2.71 million cases (48-tall case equivalent) in the 2007 sales season to 1.84 million cases in the 2008 sales season, due to a lower-than-expected pink harvest of 96 million fish this year. (The sales season runs from 1 September to 31 August.)

Meanwhile, canned sockeye sales plunged to 952,000 cases during the 2008 sales season, a six-year low.

For Alaska’s salmon industry, the May-to-August period represents about 90 percent of annual fresh salmon sales (both H&G and fillets) and slightly more than half of annual frozen H&G sales.

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