In February the USDA bought upwards of 100 million servings of Alaska Pink salmon from last years super catch to feed to American kids in need.
Just now the US Government have announced a second purchase of this amazing pasture fed salmon abundance with up to 50 million additional meals being purchased for its Emergency Food Assistance Program. That’s more than 8.4 million jumbo cans of salmon, or nearly 50 million servings, said Bruce Schactler, USDA food aid program coordinator for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
“What’s happening with the product? Well, Americans are eating it all over the country,” Schactler said. The USDA will insure that the salmon makes it onto the plates of needy Americans in all of the 50 states. A second purchase of similar size is expected in October Schactler said.
With such a spectacular catch wholesale prices are down and this wealth of highly nutritious pasture fed fish deserves to be be shared with everyone.
The record-breaking pink salmon run of 2013 comes as a result of the stunning success of restoration and revival of their most vital ocean pasture in 2012. The all time record catch that was double any previous catch left the state with more than three years’ worth of the canned fish.
Processors have sold more of this product of canned pinks than average this year, but still have more than a two-year stock remaining, Schactler said.
This latest purchase comes a month after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) urged the federal government to do so and the USDA agreed to complete the purchase in the near future.
“For countless Alaskans and Americans nationwide, the economy is still not working for them; food banks nationwide are seeing increased numbers of those seeking emergency food assistance,” Murkowski said in a news release Wednesday. “Knowing that Alaska’s seafood warehouses have tons of excess canned pink salmon seemed a great fit to clear their shelves and help feed Americans with one of the most natural and nutritious options out there.”
Murkowski reached out to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in late July in support of Gov. Sean Parnell’s request that existing federal funds be used to purchase the extra salmon, saying that “unsold salmon inventory was harming this season’s economic prospects,” according to the release.
Parnell asked Vilsack to consider the purchase this summer. The USDA in March purchased $20 million in canned pink salmon for the emergency food program.
“The purchase of Alaska’s canned salmon achieves several goals: It corrects the inventory surplus, helps Alaska’s fishing families, and provides high-quality nutrition for food and assistance programs,” Parnell said in a statement.
Last year’s pink harvest broke records, bringing in 226 million of the state’s most prolific salmon species. Processors canned and froze the fish at capacity, ASMI spokesman Tyson Fick said.
This flooded the market with canned salmon, Schactler said. The larger the supply of fish, the less wholesalers must pay processors for it.
Because of last year’s huge return of Pink Salmon and record harvest, the wholesale price is down 25 percent, he said. The price to fishermen is down by a third.
The USDA used to commonly purchase canned salmon for its food aid programs but the product “became expensive, too expensive for the food aid market,” Fick said.
Alaska will probably continue to be flush with pink salmon. This years Pink salmon harvest is again far in excess of what was forecast.