Reports from Alaska are giving cause for concern among UK salmon importers who until last week were reasonably relaxed about the programme of the red pack. But a sudden end to fishing could mean a pack down by 40% compared with last season. A pack similar to last season had been predicted but the famous Bristol Bay run failed to match expectations. This week will be critical. If the total catch is down from the expected 20 million to 14 million fish, then the overall Alaskan pack may only be 750,000 cases (basis 48 x 1lbs) compared with 1.3 million cases last year. This calculation is assuming a split of 60% frozen and 40% canned, but some reports from Alaska say the quality of frozen may reduce it to a slack Japanese market. Whichever way it goes, it will be a difficult year for UK buyers who have worked hard to regain customer interest in salmon in the face of tuna promotional activity. The recent 99p red deals proved how much salmon can be sold at the right price. If the new season pack is down, canners will be looking for higher dollar prices at a time when sterling continues its weakening, giving rise to substantial price increases to the trade later in the year. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}

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