Red salmon prices are expected to drop as both retailers and importers need to regenerate sales in what has been the traditional lead product in the canned fish sector. Tuna has overtaken salmon, but as prices escalate, the opportunity to promote salmon has presented itself due to an aggressive stance by the two leading brands, Princes and John West. Princes has red talls (418g) in Asda at £1.79 with a 96% free' flash on the label, thus giving a tall can at the price of a 213g one. John West has 213g on sale in Tesco at £1.39, down 40p. Both brands are offering specials, including bogofs. These lower prices partly reflect the reduction negotiated at the end of last year with Alaskan producers. But as the sterling/dollar rate has weakened, it appears that distributors have subsidised the longer than expected reduction to get sales moving. There are no longer any official stock figures published by the Canners Association, so it is difficult to know the extent of the likely carryover which packers have decided to finance. Their option was to sell at even lower levels to the UK, but there was a consensus that the losses would be too damaging. If there is another large pack this season, negotiations will be long and hard, particularly if sterling is still around the $1.40 level. Following the deals on proprietary labels, it is expected that own label will also be reduced but it seems unlikely this will be as much as the cut for the brands. Princes supported a major pre-Christmas price reduction which seemed successful, so this week's events may force retailers to review the balance between own label and the brands. Once a retailer has contracted for the year, there is little room for price changes, whereas the brands are investing heavily ­ so much so that for a period own label could be more expensive. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}