Many Factors Will Affect 2013 Wild Salmon Prices

About this time every year, the big
question on the minds of commercial harvesters is what price per pound they
will get for their investment of time and effort in Alaska’s commercial wild
salmon fishery. The only certainty is that in 2013, as in other years, the
price will depend on the exchange rate on the Japanese yen and the Euro, the
harvest of other wild fish producers, particularly in Russia and Japan, and the
shape of farmed salmon markets.  People
need to be aware of what’s happening with farmed salmon prices, how much canned
salmon is carried over from last year’s harvest, and the elusive general mood
of people in the market, said Gunnar Knapp, a fisheries economist with the
University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic
Research.  Everyone always tries to
manipulate expectations, he said.
If people think the demand for salmon is
strong they are willing to pay a good price, but it people think it’s weak,
processors may say they had better take a deal while they can get it. “That’s
the game everyone always plays,” he said.

In his analysis of Alaska salmon values in
a recent salmon market bulletin for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute,
Andy Wink of the McDowell Group in Juneau noted that in the case of
troll-caught Chinook salmon, fishermen receive a large share of the retail
value, offset by trollers’ low production volume.

In the case of frozen Bristol Bay sockeye
fillets, fishermen received 40 percent to 50 percent of the first wholesale
value, and with tall canned pink salmon, fishermen receive a smaller share of
the retail value, but that is offset by seiners’ high production volume.

Distributors ship, store, sell and
occasionally process fish before selling to retailers or restaurants. Sometimes
these are independent companies and sometimes the processor or retailer
maintains his own distribution business, Wink noted.

Regardless of whether salmon are sold
directly from a processor to a retailer or whether they are sold to
distributors, all salmon products incur distribution costs, and distributor
mark-ups can range from pennies per pound to more than a dollar per pound,
depending on the product, he said.