Saturday, June 11, 2016

Costco is struggling to supply fresh wild sockeye salmon to N.J. stores

Last August, I cooked fresh wild sockeye salmon from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack on a stove-top grill, topped the serving pieces with a reduction of organic diced tomatoes and red wine, and accented them with chopped fresh herbs, above and below.


Fresh wild sockeye salmon from the Copper River in Alaska usually arrives at Costco Wholesale's New Jersey warehouses in late May or in the first week of June.

But not this year, and the bad news came Friday in a call from Costco Wholesale headquarters in Washington State.

"Yeah, it's been a real challenging season. Supplies [of fresh wild sockeye salmon] have been hand to mouth," said Lyle French, the fresh-seafood buyer at Costco headquarters in Issaqua, Wash.

"The fishery is about 68% below last year's catch, and the 5-year average," French said.

He said Costco was able to supply "a little bit" of fresh wild sockeye salmon to East Coast warehouses, but not enough "to sustain a full day's business."

$35 a pound

The shortages might explain why, about 10 days ago, Whole Foods Market in Paramus was selling fresh sockeye salmon for about $35 a pound.

The first Copper River sockeye usually sells for about $15 a pound at Costco.

My wife went to the Teterboro Costco on Friday morning, and found only fillets of troll-caught wild king salmon.

A week to 10 days ago, the Teterboro warehouse also had some wild king salmon from Canada, but no sockeye, which has a deeper red-orange color and a bolder taste.

French said he expects Costco's New Jersey members will start seeing more fresh sockeye on or before the Fourth of July.

Here's a post I wrote two years ago about the ascendancy of the Copper River:

Costco celebrates wild sockeye salmon

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