2016 ended with major cod suppliers depleted of fillet inventories since mid-October and, so far, it has been an unusual year for Alaskan cod catches.
Initial "A" season offloads in January indicated an optimistic outlook, but by March fishermen began to focus on pollock instead, following adverse weather conditions. While the cod fishery is still open, it is acting as more of a by-catch fishery than a targeted one.
Prices increased, with larger sizes of Pacific cod shatterpack fillets rising to around $4.25 for 32 ups and $4.10 for 16-32s. Smaller sizes are still sparse, it's nearly impossible to find 4-8oz fillets in the market. If the "B" season is a bust then inventories will be short in all sizes by the Fall.
In the twice frozen market, Pacific cod prices have been strengthening since last December as a result of raw material shortages.
All throughout 2016 twice frozen loin pricing on the west coast held steady at $2.75 per pound until Chinese New Year when we saw it rise to around $2.90 per pound. Fishing has been poor in both the Russian and Alaskan fishery, as mentioned, so current pricing is around $3.05 per pound. Many vendors are booking up production through until next February, and are asking for a further 5 to 10 cents on finished goods as demand continues to strengthen. This would put the twice frozen market on Pacific cod at $3.15 per pound, incredibly strong pricing if you compare to Atlantic cod loins at $3.22 on the west coast.
We are not seeing any inconsistencies in sizing, but inventories are booking several months in advance, so buyers should take a look at their requirements for the summer and begin making purchase decisions now, especially if prices do rise another ten cents by September.