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Higher prices drive increase in trout sales

Food service establishments such as restaurants and cafeterias are demanding more value-added products to cut down on labor.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on March 7, 2018 10:24AM

U.S. sales of all sizes of trout were up 4 percent year over year to $109 million in 2017. Volumes were down, but prices took up the slack.

Idaho claimed 46 percent of that value, down from 48 percent in 2016, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Food size trout, 12 inches or longer, comprise 99.9 percent of Idaho’s trout sales. At nearly $50 million, those sales were down 1 percent from 2016.

The number of fish sold decreased nearly 21 percent for Idaho, and the number of pounds sold decreased about 19 percent. But prices increased 16 percent to $1.50 a pound.

Higher prices and lower volumes reflect what’s happening across the seafood category, said Kurt Meyers, vice president of sales and marketing at Clear Springs Foods in Buhl Idaho.

“It’s just a sign of lower supply levels. It’s a theme across a lot of species,” he said.

A lot of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, and he thinks there are a lot of supply challenges. In addition, it’s the highest cost protein, he said.

As for trout, there are always going to be changes in production from year to year. But Clear Springs Foods — the largest producer of rainbow trout in the world — is selling about the same amount of fish as it did last year, he said.

Volume sales are flat, but dollar sales are up, he said.

Higher prices are a combination of things, including product mix. Suppliers are selling more value-added products, such as breaded and boneless product and butterfly fillets, to meet demand in the food service chain, he said.

Food service is really challenged by access to labor and cost of labor, and those establishments want to cut down on in-house trimming and preparation. Across the board, they’re looking for more value-added product. So processors are doing more of that and getting a higher price, he said.

Nationwide, sales of food-size trout were also up about 4 percent to almost $101 million. The number of fish sold was down 13 percent, and pounds of fish sold were down 11 percent. But prices increased 15 percent to an average of $1.89 per pound.

Idaho’s share of food-size trout sales nationwide was 50 percent on a value basis and 62 percent on a live weight basis.

North Carolina ranked second in both total and food-size trout sales, with $9.1 million in total sales and nearly $7.9 million in sales of food-size trout. It claimed about 8 percent of food-size trout sales in both value and volume.


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