1) According to the NRF, roughly 30% of Americans plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in bars & restaurants, while 20% will host or head to house parties. Total spend will be around $4.4 Billion on food, beverages, apparel & decorations. Salmon, Mussels, Clams, Cod, Haddock & Pollock (for Fish & Chips) are all excellent seafood items to feature on & around St. Patrick’s Day, to maximize profits.
2) As mentioned here last week, the Chilean farmed Salmon industry has been suffering major losses due to an algae bloom causing red tide. The algae bloom appeared on February 22nd but really increased in size around March 1st. Chile is the world’s 2nd largest salmon supplier in the world & has experienced losses of $800 million due to this outbreak. The algae bloom is a natural occurrence due to high pressure systems, with no rainfall & high solar radiation. Obviously the large number of mortalities are causing prices to increase daily due to limited supplies. We are ordering fillets as well as hand cutting thousands of pounds of Canadian salmon daily. Fresh Salmon supplies will remain tight for the foreseeable future. The good news is, after talking to farmers in Chile today, they are experiencing fewer mortalities then last week. Stay tuned.
3) A mild winter in the NE Atlantic could mean an earlier start to the Lobster harvest this season. The 2015 value for Lobsters in Maine was a record $495 million, actual tonnage was down but value was up thanks to higher prices. The value was up $37 million compared to 2014, it is the 6th year in a row the record was exceeded. The big story this week was Norway & Sweden with the United Kingdom’s backing is requesting a ban of live lobsters from the US & Canada. The reason is they fall under the invasive specie law, after 8 lobsters were found in the Baltic Sea near Sweden over the span of a few years. Obviously these countries would still be interested in claws, tails & whole cooked product. Meanwhile Canadian processors are trying to increase their exposure & sales in Asia & Europe. Processed lobster meat in all forms remains tight & prices high, I expect the situation to remain the same as we approach spring & summer as demand grows.
4) Norway’s exports of Cod are up roughly 28% compared to Feb 2015. Skrei Cod sales are also up despite a slow start to the season. We have been bringing in Cod from Norway as well as the New England area, supplies are keeping up with strong Lenten demand.
5) The quality & availability of our Red Snappers from the Caribbean & Gulf has been outstanding from .75-1 lb fish (which makes a great whole fish plate presentation) up to 6 lb & up fish that are perfect for filleting. Asking prices for Grouper are higher due to Mexico being closed until April 1st for their annual moratorium. Central American fishermen are landing Mahi Mahi on a daily basis just not in large quantities, this is keeping prices high.
6) We have been bringing in gorgeous Halibuts from Nova Scotia, fillets cook up snowy white & have a sweet, mild flavor profile. The wild, Alaskan season will start up next week.
7) Ecuador (where we directly import our 5 Star brand shrimp), has been experiencing flooding issues, this has hampered harvesting. Prices are holding steady pre-spring & summer demand. Demand is very strong from Asian countries for their anti-biotic free shrimp. Overall I expect both farmed & wild shrimp prices to be higher this summer compared to last year.
8) We have Bay Colony Crabmeat from Indonesia in all sizes available, prices are lower compared to same time last year.
9) The quality of our domestically landed Swordfish & Albacore Tuna as well as our imported Yellow Fin Tuna has been outstanding. Mako Shark offerings have been very limited. Australia’s Eastern Yellow Fin Tuna fishermen are enjoying the best season in 10 years. South Korean vessels have been allowed to fish in the North Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile fishermen in Nova Scotia are facing fines & a 5 year ban for Illegal, Underreported & Unregulated (IUU) fishing for Bluefin Tuna. Prices of our Bay Colony Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna virtually hasn’t changed in 2 years, it remains 1 of the best values in the seafood industry. We have everything from Center Cut Loins, Saku A,AA,AAA Blocks, 4,6,8 & 10 oz Steaks, Medallions & Minced Meat available.
10) Restaurants accounted for 40,000 jobs or 17% of all new jobs in the US, according to the Labor Department.
Lower gas prices resulting in consumers having extra disposable income is one of the reasons.
11) We should have Shad fillet & roe next week coming out of Carolina, enjoy this highly seasonal delicacy while it’s around.
V.P. Sales & Marketing
E.Frank Hopkins Co.,Inc.