USDA Calls for Near-Record Bids for Alaska Pollock

The US Department of Agriculture announced Alaska pollock supply contracts worth nearly USD 3.7 million (EUR 3.4 million) on May 22.

And the CEO of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, Craig Morris, told SeafoodSource that the USDA plans to make a near-record purchase of more than 16 million pounds of pollock, as well as canned pink salmon, with bids due June 5.

Trident Seafoods, based in Seattle, Washington, USA, won USD 2.49 million (EUR 2.3 million) from the USDA contract, while Channel Fish Processing, based in Braintree, Massachusetts, USA. , will supply USD 1.19 million (EUR 1.1 million) in Alaska pollock.

USDA paid an average of USD 2.83 (EUR 2.63) per pound, the highest price USDA has ever paid for blocks of Alaska pollock, according to Morris. The agency paid between USD 3.04 and USD 3.09 (EUR 2.82 to EUR 2.87) per pound for frozen pollock fillets and USD 2.77 to USD 3.03 (EUR 2.57 to EUR 2, 82) per pound of frozen haddock sticks.

Now, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is asking for offers on 16.4 million pounds of frozen haddock and 465,120 cases of canned pink salmon for the government’s national food distribution programs.

“This application, if awarded, would be USDAs second largest [for Alaska pollock] in their story,” Craig Morris, CEO of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, told SeafoodSource.

The USDA bought 16.8 million pounds in September 2019, but “prices are so much higher now than in 2019 which will certainly be, if they grant the full amount, the largest USDA purchase ever in dollars,” Morris said. . “This purchase would also make 2023 the second largest purchase year since 2019.”

However, the new pollock purchase is well below the amount of pollock that the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and Alaska legislators have requested USDA purchase.

In a late March 2023 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Alaska’s two US Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Alaska’s sole US Representative, Mary Peltolaurged the agency to buy more sockeye salmon and Alaska pollock.

Global market and industry conditions combined with record harvests in 2021-2022 have provided USDA with the opportunity to expand its procurement of highly nutritious and sustainable Alaska sockeye salmon and Alaska pollock,” the lawmakers wrote. “Currently, Alaskan suppliers are almost done with the first part of their Alaska pollock season and need to market this massive crop. Additionally, planning for the 2023 salmon season has begun while the record 2022 crop is still being marketed. Millions of dollars are being spent and committed while waiting for the USDA to declare its need for Alaskan seafood.”

It makes sense for the USDA to buy more shellfish from Alaska, the lawmakers argued, because

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