Salmon costs soar 16% - after perfect storm for fish

Salmon supplies hit all around the world - what will you do?

Updated: 
Close-up of smoked salmon served with dill

Salmon supplies are under pressure from all sides, which means prices are up 16% in just six months. One food buyer has warned that things aren't going to get better during 2016, which could mean smoked salmon is off the menu this Christmas.

Beacon, which buys food for restaurants, says that all sorts of problems have been brewing in the salmon world. One of the major issues is that the Scottish salmon farming industry has been hit by an epidemic of sea lice - destroying their production.

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland told the Herald, this was largely down to the fact that instead of having strict controls: "Scotland essentially relies on what are little more than gentleman's agreements and unenforceable codes of good practice with the industry which have no status in law."

At the same time, salmon from Norway (the biggest supplier of salmon in the world) is in shorter supply. This is partly because they have been over-fished and are struggling to recover, and partly because colder weather has hampered their growth.

Finally, supplies from Chile (the second biggest supplier in the world) have been hit by toxic algae - destroying 123,000 tonnes of salmon so far this year. It's still not known whether the algae is cutting oxygen off from the fish or poisoning them, but it is killing a huge swathe of its usual production.

What does it mean for you?

Beacon said we would have to factor higher prices into our shopping and menu planning - or consider alternatives. Emma Warrington, Senior Food Buyer at Beacon, commented: "As well as planning their purchasing and menu creation carefully over the next six months, chefs should also be considering the alternatives to salmon. Sea trout is a great, lower cost alternative, also known as ocean trout or salmon trout, with a texture midway between salmon and farmed trout."

According to Selfish.org, salmon is the UK's second favourite fish by weight - after tuna - and we get through 55 million kg a year - at a cost of £870.8 million. The high cost of the fish means we spend more than twice as much on salmon as we do on cod or tuna.

Trout, meanwhile, is mid-table - as the country's 13th favourite dish - so there's plenty of room for growth in trout consumption.

But what do you think? Will you be switching, or are you happy to pay more?

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