The longline season is in full swing. Our deliveries of sablefish and halibut in Sitka are ahead of last year’s numbers. Troll king seasons are opened in California and Alaska. Deliveries into both fisheries have been slow to date. We hoping for both to pick-up.
During the last several months we have been talking to customers about what their upcoming salmon needs will be with the various specie we produce. There are pre-season orders for both CA and AK king fillets as well as for h/g products. In addition we are putting together a program for more portions this year. Joe and I were at the Brussels Seafood Show several weeks ago where we visited with most of our European customers. Europe is a big market for both h/g King and Coho. There is not inventories of Coho held by our European customers. From speaking with our customers in Europe as well as our domestic customers we have pre-season interest for over 3 million pounds of Coho. We need your pounds to help fill these orders. I am expecting that Coho pricing will be similar to last year. King prices could be down slightly as there has been some pushback to the high King prices that were sold last year. We’ll see what happens.
Southeast is suppose to get 71% of the entire Keta fishery in Alaska this year. So we have been talking to our current Keta customers as well as exploring new accounts so we have homes for the amount of deliveries we could see at the plant this summer. We have been talking to customers both in Europe as well as domestic customers. We will be producing fillets, portions and h/g products. The frozen green roe as well as the ikura markets are down from where they were last year. There was a huge amount of Russian Pink green roe produced last year and that inventory is still making it’s way through the markets. The result has been lower prices for all roe products. In the past, SPC has sold primarily to one customer in Japan. This year, we have added two new roe customers which should help us diversify our pack and hopefully get better prices. If you are doing troll-round chums please talk to the plant about how we want the Keta chilled. Last year we had a lot of our Keta roe frozen on board the boats because they were too cold. The plant will have instructions as how to handle the Keta so we get best results with our green roe. In addition, please remember to bleed your troll-round Keta.
We have been working on getting as much of our halibut sold fresh as possible. Kurt Sigfusson has been doing a great job, sending out over 60% of our landings in the fresh market. We took several halibut fletch and portion orders so the plant has been working on those as well. Only about 16% of our total halibut landings have been frozen h/g this year. The Alaskan halibut market is still feeling some competition from the East-coast and European farmed halibut fishery. However, I would say that the effect of that fishery has not been as severe as it has been the past couple years. I have no reason for that other than those deliveries seem to be down this year so far.
As you are aware, the sablefish prices, particularly the under 5 lb. sizes are down significantly this year. That is mainly due to the excess high-valued 2018 sablefish that the Japanese are still trying to sell. Their purchases are way down as well as the prices they are paying. This has resulted in most sablefish producers along the WesCoast holding a lot of the inventory they have produced so far this year. The other reason for lower prices and slower sales in the smaller sized sablefish is the effect of the Chinese/USA tariff war. Our Chinese customer has created a significant market for our fish over the past several year. However, with the 25% tariff imposed on USA fish going into China it has slowed down consumption and resulted in fewer containers going to China. In light of these slower markets, we have been exploring new domestic markets for h/g as well as value-added sablefish. Larger sized sablefish prices are somewhat lower than 2018 numbers but not as drastic as the U/5# sized fish. The larger sablefish prices were down mainly due to the dumping of 2018 inventory at lower prices in February by several US packers. I am confident that the larger sized fish prices will start climbing later this year.
As you are aware, SPC hired a new sales person, Mr. Kirk Hardcastle. His main job is selling to new accounts with a focus on higher margins over our general wholesale accounts. In addition Kirk is the person running our Ambassador program. If you are interested in this program, please get hold of Kirk at
All the best to our SPC owners,