Updated Monday May 20th, 2013
TROUBLE…TROUBLE…TROUBLE… Apologies to Taylor Swift, but supply of pelagic species has been quite a struggle for a long time now, whether we’re talking ono, opah, or even the ubiquitous albacore. There are many theories and guesses as to why there have been supply issues, and of course there are no easy answers. My personal favorite is that Manti Te’o has a fake fishing vessel which has been catching them all…
The end result of this general shortage is that the market ends up being more and more volatile, with “boom or bust” availability reminiscent of the old pre-quota halibut openings… For example, albacore has been selling from $3.25 to $4.95 withing a ten-day span. Very volatile price action for a fish that sold within a 25 cent range for years.
So now the main question is probably one that we’ll not have definitive answers to until it’s too late. Has ever-more-efficient harvesting finally reached the tipping point for these species? Even the vast Pacific Ocean must have a finite number of fish in it, what if we’ve reached the end? Hopefully that’s not the case, and these “highly-migratory” fish will return to abundance, and more stable pricing and availability in the near future as we all strive to manage these various and diverse fisheries. Up and down the chain, we all can and must do our part. Think about it…
King Salmon(farmed) – There are always fluctuations in demand tied into the offering, availability and novelty of wild king salmon runs out of the Northwest and California coast around this time of year. Normally as those wild runs multiply in May and June coupled with the Columbia River kings the pricing comes down to levels that are the same or lower than our farmed kings, but that hasn’t happened this year and it appears that wild stocks are low and prices will remain high. Our New Zealand king salmon business has developed a strong following over the years especially with the ORA King re-branding. Coupled with that, sales of our farmed kings have been very strong for the preceding several months, and our NZ King supplier may have improperly projected pen quantities after adding additional North American importers to the mix and we find ourselves on a severe allocation. Through the summer months until some time in September we will have access to less than one third of our normal business for that time period should everything go according to plan. So we will attempt to alleviate the sting of shortages by emphasizing our two other sources of king salmon supply lines out of New Zealand with Sanford and Mount Cook Alpine Salmon finally harvesting market sized fish.
Bass – NZ Seafoods is has always been known as a strong supplier of sea bass and we have had to do a lot of juggling to satisfy our customer demands. NZ product has been scarce with limited amounts of groper/hapuku, bluenose, blue moki and trumpeter the last couple months and that number will decline even more as we enter into the New Zealand’s winter and the end of the quota year that is revised in October. We have sustained sales with Taiwanese barramundi, Central and South American corvina and robalo which have now become the staple items in our warehouse. We are in process of adding other countries of origin to increase the volume of sea bass and should have results in the next few months.
Inshore species – Competition remains strong on the international front with strong demand from countries in Asia especially China and of course the ever present neighbor to NZ – Australia . Exotic snappers(ie – onaga, opaka, lehi and ehu) from the South Pacific Islands have been virtually non-existent and/or too pricey for our market. Our main snapper sales at NZ Seafoods has always been the tai snapper and even with 2 price increases over the last 6 months we have not been able to bring in enough to cover the demand. The long line version of the tai snapper has been extremely limited as well as the by-catch caught with that(trevally, kingfish, golden snapper, john dory, etc.) and will remain that way until we see some easing in the exchange rate. The seine or trawl caught snapper has been more readily available, but mostly in the smaller 1-2lb range. We expect the supply to continue to be a challenge and may have to endure more price increases just to keep offering the fish due to the international competition on these items.
Mahi – The mahi market has been fairly consistent and strong, ranging from mid $4 to mid $5 range for the last couple of months. Historically the summer months see the introduction of the Mexican mahi to the mix, which always drops the price a dollar or so.
Tilapia – After many delays and logistics issues we seem to have developed a promising and consistent supply of “Regal Springs” brand Mexican tilapia fillets. Available in several sizes with two or three deliveries a week. This product crosses the border as opposed to flying in from South America and provides an extreme savings compared to existing tilapia suppliers as well as an alternative white fleshed fish to replace dwindling domestic supplies of west coast snapper, cod, etc.
Farmed European seabass/sea bream – Prices have now stabilized and we should start to see a consistent stream of larger size fish on the seabass side.
Florida Littleneck Clams from Clamtastic(clamtasticseafood.com) – Plentiful and supplier is offering a special on pricing at the moment. 16ct and 24ct packed in 5×10 lb bags.
Greenlips – Half shells are going through a huge product shortage and prices are going up(AGAIN).
Scampi – With the Sanford brand seemingly sold out and pricing slowly on it’s way up(where it stops, nobody knows) we’ve been on the hunt for some other supply lines for that species everyone knows and loves. So we’ve finally brought in a new line from another trusted supplier throughout the years on other species we carry. We present, Connors Catch
Orange Roughy Fillet(frozen) – The new quota period at the first of the year had good catches and prices came down. However, this quarter catch is down and prices are going back up. Current price for 6-8oz fillets are $7.75/lb
Orange Roughy Fillet(fresh) – We’ve seen semi consistent supply of this beautiful product landing once every 2 weeks or so. Pricing remains steady around the $10 range at the wholesale level.