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Salmon Catch Down Again for Russia

06 November 2013
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

RUSSIA - The Russian Fishery Agency forecasts the total salmon catch in Russia to only reach 360,000 MT in 2013 (nearly all of which is in the Russian Far East), which, if realized would be 20 percent lower than 2012, and 28 percent below 2011.

Magadan Fishery Scientific Research Institute has a slightly more optimistic forecast at 380,000 MT but this would still be down considerably from previous years.

The reason for a lower catch is attributed to the fact that salmon largely did not migrate as expected to the traditional places in the Russian Far East but a greater amount went to Alaska, resulting in a record level of salmon catch in Alaska this year.

The Alaska salmon catch reached a record level this year, and according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Department, 272 million salmon were harvested to date, approximately 480,000 MT which is 59 per cent higher from the 2012.

Pink salmon accounts for almost 80 per cent of the total catch in Alaska, followed by sockeye and chum salmon.

Kamchatka and Sakhalin are major regions for Pacific salmon catch, followed by Khabarovskiy kray, Magadan, and Chukotka.

Salmon harvesting runs from June through November. According to the Russian Federal Fishery Research Institute (TINRO-Center), by the end of September 2013, the salmon catch in Sakhalin was estimated at 201,500 MT, followed by Kamchatka kray, with 138,100 MT, Khabarovsk kray with 33,100 MT, and Magadan with 4,700 MT.

The bulk of catch in Kamchatka is sockeye salmon, while in Magadan and Sakhalin oblasts the catch includes pink salmon, and in Chukotka and Khabarovskiy kray it is chum salmon.

According to the Federal Fishery Agency, despite a lower catch, a shortage of salmon or salmon roe in the Russian market is not expected. However, prices had been increasing as a result of the lower catch.

Since June, the beginning of catching season, retail prices for salmon roe have increased by almost 70 per cent, from 1.2 to 1.5 thousand rubles, up to 2.1 to 2.5 thousand rubles per kilogram. This increase in prices was due in part to the delayed beginning of the salmon catch (and prices could decrease as the harvest progresses through November).

Also, another factor in the price increase was strong competition for raw materials (unprocessed roe) between local coastal processing facilities and specialized facilities in the Central Russia.

Recently a number of new salmon processing facilities started operations in Kamchatka and Sakhalin, the two major salmon roe producing regions. As a result, processors from the European Russia are ready to pay higher prices for roe to ensure they fulfill their processing capacities.

Trade sources report that the average annual Russian production of salmon roe for retail varies from 11,000 MT to 13,000 MT estimated at 28 to 30 billion rubles (almost $1 billion) in value.

Trade in Salmon and Salmon Roe

Although Russia is a major producer of Pacific salmon, the country imports large volumes of Atlantic salmon. Trade figures show a steady increase in imports of Atlantic salmon during the last few years.

In 2012, Russia’s imports of fish and fish products were valued at $2.6 billion, almost the same as in 2011. The share of primary salmon products and salmon roe in total imports of fish and seafood to Russia is estimated at 39 per cent and is presented in the chart below.

About two-thirds of salmon imports into Russia come from Norway and Russia is the world's largest importer of Norwegian salmon. Demand for these imports continue to be strong due to:

  • the expansion of Russian middle class;
  • improved logistics for seafood and handling in European Russia coupled with the logistical challenges of getting Far East Russian salmon to European Russian urban centers;
  • the growing demand for healthier products in Russia.

Also, in 2012, Russia imported $29 million worth of salmon liver and roe (HS 030390) for red caviar. The United States was the leading supplier of this product at more than $11 million of salmon roe in value, or 38 per cent share of total imports of the product to Russia. In 2013, although total imports of salmon roe have been up (for January-August 2013 estimated at $20 million, a 17 per cent increase over the same period in 2012), imports from the United States have been down.

This has primarily been due to the lower Alaskan catch in 2012 and subsequent high prices. With the large 2013 catch in Alaska, US export volumes to Russia are expected to rise in coming months as these new roe supplies begin to hit the market. The demand for salmon roe will continue to be strong as this is historically a traditional product for the Russians, and demand should strengthen with the upcoming holiday season.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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