February 6, 2017

Holding the Line on Salmon and Other Fish in Kosher Stores Becoming More Difficult

New York - Salmon prices have been going through the roof for more than a year but some of the major kosher independent stores are just beginning to pass on the steep price increases for salmon and other fish categories. The crisis first surfaced in early 2016 when unusually high sea temperatures, caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, and a lack of rainfall prompted an algae outbreak with Chilean salmon, the world’s second largest supplier of salmon. Subsequently, salmon prices reached historic highs due to an outbreak of sea lice in Norway, which offers the world’s largest farmed salmon supply. The NASDAQ Salmon Index indicates the price of the fatty fish increased by more than 15 percent in the last three months alone. In Norway and Scotland, Salmon prices climbed by 50 percent in 2016 due to a spread of the half-inch parasites, which nibble on the fish’s blood and tissue, the Guardian reported. Similar increases were also apparent with Canadian fish. Moshe of Evergreen in Monsey and now opening this week in Lakewood said that most stores tried to absorb the increases in early 2016, but the continued soaring prices caused them to make some adjustment in recent weeks. The price for a lb. of salmon has gone from $10.99 to $12.99, but it is still a fraction of the actual price increases.  David Dvorkes, of the Fish Department at Pomegranate, said that the increase in prices were not passed on to consumers. “We use top of the line Scottish salmon and absorbed whatever increases there were.” Nor was salmon the only fish category that saw market prices soar. Fish like sea bass and flounder, mostly due to shortages, also experienced steep increases. Many industry sources told Kosher Today that the consumption of fish by kosher consumers has more than tripled in the last two years. They say that due to the popularity of sushi and a more health-conscious kosher customer, fish has become an important basic staple in the kosher diet.