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Wholesale Prices for Bristol Bay Salmon Trending Up


A new market report on the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery says wholesale prices for sockeye products are trending up, and that produce appears to be moving faster this year.

Wholesale prices of farmed salmon are also up considerably over the past 12 months, noted the fall 2016 sockeye market analysis prepared for the Bristol Bay Regional seafood Development Association by the McDowell Group.

The report notes that the preliminary ex-vessel value of Bristol Bay sockeye increased 66 percent in 2016, due to a price increase and strong harvest volume. Meanwhile the value of all other Alaska sockeye declined 7 percent.

After a couple of years of negative trends, currency rate movements have generally been favorable for Alaska sockeye producers in 2016, and the estimated market value of Bristol Bay salmon driftnet permits is up 22 percent, or approximately $24,000, from the beginning of the year, the report said.

Andy Wink, who follows salmon markets for the Juneau, Alaska research firm, says that with wholesale prices trending up, albeit still low, and major product forms selling faster this year, “a fantastic opportunity is developing in the US market, but it’s going to require top notch quality.”

“US fresh and refreshed sockeye markets offer the best chance for growth,” Wink told BBRSDA members at a gathering on Nov. 18 during Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. “Fishermen who provide high quality fish to these channels will be in the best position to benefit,” he said.

The success of the branding program that the BBRSDA is rolling out will depend on a sufficient supply of high quality fish, he said. Chilled fish in fillet and headed and gutted markets creates higher value, so the goal is to provide enough chilled fish for billet and H&G production, plus a buffer, he said.

The report itself notes that ideally all chilled Bristol Bay sockeye would be directed to fillet and H and G lines and unchilled sockeye would be used in canned product. The chilled sockeye produces higher quality fillet products that require fewer discounts. In the canned market, there is currently very little difference in prices depending on whether the fish was chilled or not.

Preliminary data compiled by the McDowell Group showed that this year sockeye ex-vessel prices of $0.76 a pound in Bristol Bay compared with $0.74 in the Alaska Peninsula; $0.99 in Kodiak; $1.53 in Cook Inlet; and $2.24 in Prince William Sound.

A year ago the ex-vessel prices were $0.64 in Bristol Bay; $0.75 for the Alaska Peninsula; $0.93 in Kodiak; $1.54 in Cook Inlet; and $1.98 for Prince William Sound.

The overall value of sockeyes, based on preliminary data for this year, was $153.2 million for Bristol Bay; $25.2 million for the Alaska Peninsula; $10.6 million for Kodiak; $23 million for Cook Inlet and $23.1 million for Prince William Sound.

That compared with sockeye values a year ago of $121.2 million for Bristol Bay; $23.5 million for the Alaska Peninsula; $13.9 million for Kodiak; $22.9 million for Cook Inlet, and $35.5 million for Prince William Sound.

The report also notes that net processing revenue – the difference between first wholesale revenue earned by processors from selling sockeyes less ex-vessel payments to fishermen – increased substantially during the 2015 harvest year.

Finally net processing revenue estimates for the 2016 harvest year will not be available until next summer, but they are expected to be well above the four-year moving average, the report said.

Increasing net processing revenues suggest that the financial position of the processing sector in Bristol Bay has improved substantially since the 2014 harvest year cycle, which improves the outlook for future ex-vessel values, the report said.

Read the complete report online at


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