For the first time in three years, this Christmas is likely to see red salmon promotions driven by halves rather than talls. "More red halves have been packed this year, the balance is much better than last year," said a trader. Preliminary estimates put the total catch at 20 million fish over a longer period than expected: the red lines stopped this weekend. Fewer fish have been frozen to ease the pressure of numbers, which have been reasonably close to industry estimates. Red salmon is expected to be cheaper this year ­ possibly by as much as 10%. "This time last year the pipeline was empty of halves, so prices rocketed in the autumn, only to fall back as fresh stocks arrived." Fishing for pink salmon, further south, has got off to a quiet start. This has alarmed some packers. The fishing forecast has plunged from 44 million fish to 18 million, despite two large peaks in the runs this week. "But it's just too early to tell yet." For the first time, the volume of pinks sold in the UK market has outgrown reds: growing 20% year on year, ACNielsen MAT volume figures for June 17 estimate pinks at 7,832t against 7,377t for reds, down 2%. Red volumes have been affected by poor catches ­ two years ago the equivalent figure was over 10,000t. Pink volumes have not fluctuated as widely as red ­ in fact the mid- une Nielsen MAT showed a drop at 6,548t. {{PROVISIONS }}