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E&E's Salmon Ikura Outlook

E&E's Salmon Ikura Outlook
The chum and pink salmon runs for Cook Inlet (and Kotzebue Sound for chums) don’t start in earnest until mid-July. Ikura (often called "salmon caviar") processing at our Pacific Star plant follows closely behind and in a normal year, most of our production happens in August, with shipments to Seattle occurring as we fill containers. We anticipate this year to be similar to last year in terms of timing.

Although PacStar’s total ikura production volume the past two years has essentially been the same, we believe this year’s output might be higher for a couple of reasons:

• First, although actual catch figures have declined the last few years for both pink and chum salmon, the state surveys and biologists’ assessments forecast runs to be higher this year.

Pink salmon runs on a two-year cycle, with odd-years in Alaska being the “on-year” when harvests are normally robust.

This year’s all-Alaska forecast for pinks is 124mn fish, twice as much as 2020’s forecast of 60mn (versus actual of 58mn fish) and similar to 2019’s 139mn forecast (129mn actual). However, most pinks will be in Southeast and Prince William Sound, two areas we don’t generally source from, though their existence will likely affect the market.

The 2021 pink salmon forecast for Cook Inlet is 2.8mn fish, close to 2020’s actual catch on a forecast of 3.4mn fish.

For reference, 2019’s Cook Inlet forecast was 3.5mn fish, as opposed to the actual catch of 2.1mn pinks.

Obviously, we don’t get all the fish in any area, though we are a major player in Cook Inlet.

Chum salmon runs follow a less predictable pattern and harvests the past two years have been both considerably under forecasts and poor. This year could be more of the same, though given how poor last year’s harvest was, there is nowhere to go but up…right?

2019 all-Alaska forecasted catch was 29mn (260,000 in Cook Inlet, 2.2mn in Kotzebue’s AYK area) and the actual catch was 20mn fish (184,000, 1mn).

2020’s all-Alaska forecast was about 20mn fish (256,000 fish in Cook Inlet, 2mn in AYK); actual catch was 8mn fish (39,000 fish – not a typo – and 190,000 fish, though some of the AYK fish were caught in the Yukon and Kuskokwim River systems).

2021 sees a further decline in the forecast to 15mn fish (161,000 fish in Cook Inlet and 570,000 in AYK).

• Second, we have more fishermen fishing for us – likely leading to more fish even if the catch numbers decline. In addition, as part of the growing Canfisco organization, E&E may also have access to additional raw material from other Canfisco affiliates. These are both positive developments that are unrelated to the run.

• Industry-wide, we’ve also heard talk that some of the major packers are cutting back on finished product because of labor shortages and freezing eggs as green roe instead.

• Ultimately, production is largely determined by the actual catch and until we see that, forecasts are just forecasts.

While production the past two years has been similar, the sales pattern has been very different. It took us almost twelve-months to sell all our inventory in 2019, but last year we were sold out by December. Since then, we have also had many inquiries from existing and new customers asking if we had anything left to sell, so there still seems to be robust demand. This is the big wild-card this year – demand.

Some of the growth in demand was due to a growing customer base, some due to changes in consumption patterns brought on by COVID, and some due to better overall production quality. We added some new machinery to increase output and some adjustments we plan on making to the process should lead to drier ikura. Our pack size remains a 500g tray, with 24 trays per master case; the salt target remains at 2.5%. Yet, a lot of the production quality depends on how concentrated the run is and on how fresh the fish are. We have little control over how many fish show up at each opener and do our best to deal with every surge of fish as carefully and efficiently as possible. As far as freshness goes, we work with our fishermen and our production crew to maintain the highest quality possible.

The final element related to demand is price. Though PacStar ikura is less well-known than Trident, Ocean Beauty and Peter Pan’s, the premium those name brands have been able charge is shrinking each year – and not because their prices are going down! Coupled with the fact the market is very short at both the packer and distributor level, if demand stays strong, we expect prices will be firmer this year and anticipate our pink ikura priced at $18-$20 per lb. and chum ikura priced at $25-$28. Of course, these are just preliminary indicative prices and are subject to catch, production, timing of the run, quality and size of the eggs, and a host of other variables.

In short, we expect pinks and chums to show up on time, in hopefully greater volumes, from which we will endeavor to produce dry ikura at modest salt levels, have much of it sold as soon as possible, and at prices that make sense for both of us.

Let us know your needs for the year.

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Back At It On Resurrection Bay

The Silver Beach settles a loa... The Silver Beach settles a load of sockeye onto the port side of vessel. A nice haul of sockeyes as th... A nice haul of sockeyes as the crew of the Dolly B works to land the catch. The Dolly B tips to starboard ... The Dolly B tips to starboard under the weight of the catch. Iced and toted and ready for p... Iced and toted and ready for production. Our Kenai plant turns around t... Our Kenai plant turns around the day's catch as soon as possible, before these headed-and-gutted fish are flown all over the Lower 48.
Although the sockeye salmon season started slowly, it's starting to pick up momentum as fishermen continue to fish for E&E Foods in pristine Resurrection Bay. These "Rez Bay silver bullets" are filling a market need due to the poor run so far of its more famous brethren in Copper River, and they have been a hit with our customer base. These beauties were swimming in the morning, dressed at 5 and out the door shortly thereafter to our customers across the United States.

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E&E's Pacific Star Plant Participates in Kenai Area Vaccine Program

E&E's Pacific Star Plant Partic...
The Kenai, Alaska Fire Department is part of a "Sleeves Up For Summer" COVID vaccine program. The attached link features Kenai's Fire Chief describing the program's goals and how it serves the local community -- including E&E's own Pacific Star plant. Nate Berga, Pacific Star's plant manager, provides comments on how it benefits the community and adds a layer of safety for the plant.

Sleeves Up For Summer: Kenai Fire Department And Processors
Author: Anthony Moore | June 2, 2021
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services launched the Sleeves Up for Summer campaign in hopes of increasing statewide COVID-19 vaccinations. It’s a community-driven campaign to increase vaccination rates marked by events planned by local communities, business groups and healthcare and community organizations. The latest video for the campaign features Kenai Fire Chief Tony Prior.

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Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to Head North

Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to ... Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to ... Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to ... Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to ... Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to ... Cape Greig, Seabird Ready to ...
One critical component of E&E Foods' Alaska operations is the flexibility provided by its floating processor, Cape Greig, and its cold storage, freighter companion, Seabird. As in past years, they will travel together as far north as Kotzebue in the Arctic Circle, in addition to their regular Bristol Bay posting near the Ugashik River.

They will soon be making the week-long trip from their winter berth in Seattle's Ballard Fishermen's Terminal to Alaska. Preparations always include a repainting, as the pictures above show. Both vessels, empty except for supplies, sit high in the water with a gleaming dark blue paint job as they await departure.

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Resurrection Bay Sockeyes Are Starting to Show!

Resurrection Bay Sockeyes Ar... Resurrection Bay Sockeyes Ar...
One of our seiners, the F/V Buchanan, caught our first sockeyes of the year from Resurrection Bay. Though "Rez Bay's" season started May 24th, the run has just started to materialize and while the number of sockeyes caught was modest, it's always exciting to see the first sockeyes of the year. Contact your sales rep about getting yours!

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We're Baaaaaack!

The Beauty Bay The Beauty Bay
OK, maybe that was a bit of click-bait...

...but E&E Foods is back as the buyer of commercially harvested salmon in Kuskowim Bay. This year, the processor, Beauty Bay and the tender, Tanusha, will ferry between Quinhagak and Goodnews Bay catering to the fishermen of the local co-op.

The season isn't expected to start before July 1 and may last until mid-August, targeting king, sockeye and chum salmon, with openers expected every other day. About 70 local fishermen participated last year as E&E helped support the local communities.

see last year's blog for more detail:

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Big Creek Gets Ready for 2021

The first barge arrives with s... The first barge arrives with supplies for Big Creek's Bristol Bay plant - just down the beach from E&E's Coffee Point plant.
As we posted a few months ago, the Canfisco Group purchased the assets of Big Creek Fisheries in Bristol Bay and Big Creek will join the Group, which includes E&E Foods, starting February 1, 2021. The combined teams at Coffee Point and Big Creek will be working together under E&E management and our first barge has just arrived at Big Creek as we ready for a great season!

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E&E Foods Named 2020 Donor of the Year

April 13, 2021

E&E Foods Receives 2020 Donor of the Year Award
SeaShare Partner Lauded for Commitment to Ensuring Seafood is Offered at Food Banks

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA — Seashare, a non-profit dedicated to providing nutritious seafood to the national food bank network, recently recognized E&E Foods with its 2020 Donor of the Year Award. The Seattle-based seafood company rallied its employees at the end of the year to donate generously to SeaShare, and the results provided more than 232,000 seafood servings to food banks and feeding centers.

E&E also donated 101,000 pounds of seafood to the nonprofit for food bank distribution at the beginning of the pandemic. The seafood company has partnered with SeaShare for eight years to help feed nutritious seafood to those in need.

read the rest by clicking on the link below:

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Alaska: Still Abundant and Still Sustainable

There has been much discussion about a Netflix production, Seaspiracy, a cleverly named movie that claims fish are being over-harvested everywhere and that the world will run out of fish in thirty years. Yet, scientists and researchers have universally debunked what has generally been characterized as a hit piece by agenda-driven vegan activists. There is widespread scientific data showing that levels of fish are increasing - overall and in most places.

We stand with the experts and our only agenda is to provide our customers with high quality seafood, harvested in a sustainable manner. While there may be areas of the world where fish are unscrupulously harvested, they are more the exception than the rule and Alaska is definitely not one of those places. It’s an actively managed, sustainable fishery and that's a fact.

Listen to an expert:

Ray Hilborn, marine biologist and fisheries scientist, known for his work on conservation and natural resource management in the context of fisheries. He is currently professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington. He focuses on conservation, natural resource management, fisheries stock assessment and risk analysis, and advises several international fisheries commissions and agencies.

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E&E Foods Provides Vaccine to All Employees

E&E Foods Provides Vaccine t... E&E Foods Provides Vaccine t... E&E Foods Provides Vaccine t...
E&E Foods continues to lead the way in the COVID era, providing free on-site testing to all its employees last year, and following it up this year with on-site Moderna vaccinations to all - also at no cost to employees. Round two of the two-shot vaccination will be carried out on-site in April.

The actions show management's continued emphasis on the health and safety of its employees, products, and facilities. During the entire COVID period, E&E's plants have been near full operation, with modest personnel absence, as all employees have been diligent in following proper COVID protocol.

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