Products at a glance
Heritage Meats & Poultry
Duck & Foie Gras
Grocery/Retail Ready Items
December 1, 2011
December 1, 2011
Hopefully this is the quiet before the storm of business for the holidays. The celebration of Christmas and New Year’s/holiday season is what everyone is looking forward to with hope at this time. We think we have a somewhat more clear understanding of what is happening in seafood and other proteins. Let Inland give you our best guess views.
For fresh fish the Halibut season is over in Alaska and in the Pacific Northwest. We’ll see some shots of very expensive East Coast Halibut come into the marketplace as well as some spendy farm raised Halibut from Norway and Scotland.
This year we have decided to revive our frozen-at-sea (FAS) refreshed Halibut program from years past. We are re-introducing this product at really attractive prices for the month of December. It will be at $14.99/lb for skin-on, $15.99/lb for skin-off, and $18.59/lb for portions. These prices are well under where the fresh Pacific Halibut season closed and the quality is excellent.
In addition, in the marketplace this week we are seeing more Striped Bass. For some reason demand in New York City is keeping that price up even though there is more fish. We have some big, gorgeous sushi product here and on the way. We think we should see fish for most of the month, or at least until the fishermen’s tags run out, which should be between the 20th and Christmas. Each licensed fisherman gets a certain number of tags to fill his quota and every fish we receive has these tags so we know these are legally and sustainably caught. Some people still have a good amount of tags and there are plenty of fish in the water.
Black Bass is also available but will be expensive and supply will be spotty. Also in the mid-Atlantic we are seeing a huge run of Flounder that should last almost all of the month. Prices are down and this would be a great fish to feature for the entire month of December as we think, barring major weather incidents, there should be great landings. We are receiving 3-5 deliveries per week from up and down the mid-Atlantic seaboard from various ports.
As a by-catch to the flounder fishing, we are getting excellent quality Monkfish at good prices. As long as Flounder is being caught we should see a good supply of Monkfish ,aka poor man’s lobster or Lotte in French, at more reasonable prices than they have been.
The Mahi Mahi market is still in a state of flux because the demand for frozen has made the beach price very high. Although Mahi should be lower than it is now, it is staying more expensive than it should be. We anticipate the price will drop somewhat over the next 10 days until we see the full moon on the 10th and then after that it will hopefully drop more around the 17th of December. Prices are still more reasonable now than during the summer and early fall for this versatile fish.
There are landings all over the world now on Corvina. We were informed that Baja Redfish, which is a relative of the Corvina, is no longer an acceptable name according to the FDA. We are told we can now call it Baja Sea trout and are going to market and bring it in the coming weeks at attractive prices.
We’ve had some interest in Kona Kampachi. We had test shipments for a couple of weeks in November and now the fish are larger, but so is the price. It will probably be $2-3 more per pound and we would like your input on whether this would be a fish to bring in for the holiday season. It is excellent for both sushi and barely-cooked entrees and is comparable to Hamachi that is going for over $12.00/lb on a frozen product so this is really a deal.
Another fish to look at for the upcoming month would be farmed Cobia from Panama. The product is exceptionally fresh and is very versatile in all sorts of applications from sushi to grilling and has a sweet taste reminiscent of a cross between Grouper and Swordfish.
We were able to get a good trip of Wreckfish off of the South Carolina coast in this week. Wreckfish has often been sold as Grouper in the past but we think it is an entirely different meaty, flaky fish that is great by itself under its own name and is a sustainable limited fishery.
The good news on Grouper is that we are starting to see some easing in pricing as boats start switching gears in Mexico from Octopus to Grouper. The recent cold front that brought the boats in from Mexico and in the Gulf has put a lot of fish in the market and therefore the price is down considerably. We don’t know what will happen for the rest of the month but for the next 10 days prices are going down.
There will be good supplies of both Puppy Drum and Large Lake Pontchartrain Drum at reasonable prices coming in as the weather cools down out of Louisiana. It also will start the beginning of the Jumbo Sheephead season. Sheephead makes an excellent fillet, and a lot of people in other markets have used this as a substitute for Speckled Trout and Snapper, but it’s a great fish in its own right.
Along with Grouper, Snapper is beginning to ease somewhat and we hope that trend continues. It will at least be more reasonable for the next ten days and we hope that continues through the entire month but we are not certain of that. We are getting shipments almost daily of Dotted Lanes and we do have some Gulf Reds from short-trip boats out of the Gulf of Mexico and Yelloweye Snapper that landed in the US from boats that are fishing in Caribbean waters off of the East Coast. All are beautiful quality fish.
Swordfish is an item that will be more expensive as we get into the winter months unless we see an increase of landings out in the Pacific, especially Hawaii, which used to be a good resource for Swordfish until environmentalists put a lawsuit against Swordfish fleets because of a by-catch of turtles. We all love turtles but we all love Swordfish too. Now the boats are required to take an observer aboard the ship to monitor the turtle by-catch. Hopefully we will have a good season this year.
Fish in the Northeast will remain very tight as weather begins to play a more important role in determining the supply and availability of species there. For example, Haddock and Cod will become scarcer and probably more expensive; and the Alaskan Cod season which is a beautiful, great value won’t begin until January 1st in any strength so Cod will be an item that will be more expensive. We are starting to bring in, this upcoming week, some of Clean Fish’s Gooseberry Cove Cod which is a wild-caught and then ranched Cod from Newfoundland. The quality is just exceptional but it will not be inexpensive. It is a very top-shelf fish.
Another issue is a worldwide shortage of not only Octopus, which we have talked about, but now Squid. Squid inventories are at a world low point and Squid demand is at a world high point. With the burgeoning middle class in Asia, who have as great affinity for Squid, prices have gone up 15% over the last two weeks and our indications are that they will continue to go up in the upcoming weeks. There is a worldwide shortage and unfortunately we are forced to pass the price increase along for squid from just about all areas.
Another thing that will probably go up in price and we would like to warn you about (you should make some purchases now) is Shrimp, especially all your larger sizes of Cooked and Raw-Peeled, De-veined Tail-on and Tail-off Shrimp that come from Asia. Due to flooding, increased demand and diseases in some of the shrimp farms where the larger Shrimp grow they will be bringing a higher premium than they have in years past. It is wise to stock up now for the holidays, buy all you can because the prices are sure to go up.
Shell-on Headless Shrimp from the US and Mexico will go up as well but not quite as dramatically, we don’t feel, until January and February. We do have some good buys on domestic Louisiana Shrimp in 16/20’s, 21/25’s, and 26/30’s as well as the all-natural Clean Fish’s Costa Rican 16/20 and 21/25 farmed product.
For Farmed Salmon, we’ll see some slight increases for Atlantic Fillets due to the holidays and increased demand. With the possibility of weather affecting supplies of fish out of Scotland and Norway, those countries' products will probably get more expensive. For example, the price to us raised almost $0.40 per pound due to what they call a hurricane that affected Northern Scotland and Norway and cancelled harvest for four days. The storm did damage to the boats that harvest the pens in the northern waters where Scotland and Norway farm their fish.
Scallops remain expensive and will get more so as the holidays approach. With colder weather we will see Nantuckets drying up. It is a rule that they cannot harvest the Nantucket Scallop when the atmospheric temperature is below 25 degrees.
Crab Meat will begin to go up slightly and it is our opinion that Pasteurized Crab Meat will continue to rise in price. We should see a good supply coming in from Central and South America on Blue Crab Meat, as well as from local production, both of which will increase in price. The good news is that we have found another source for locally picked and hand-harvested Peekytoe Crab Meat right next to our lobster facility in Millbridge, ME and weather permitting we will be getting deliveries 2-3 times per week. The good news here is that we were able to buy this product and not raise prices whatsoever.
Stone Crabs always become more popular as the holidays approach but this year looks like a bad year. Hopefully we will see an increase in Crabs in the traps as the holidays get closer and the weather fronts make the Crabs start moving around a little bit more.
On the exotic farm-raised front, we should have good supplies of Loup de mer during most of the holiday. We will also start to bring in farm-raised Turbot from Chili beginning next week that is not going to be a pre-order item. We are going to have 1-2 whole and 3-4 whole fish along with some fillets. Please check with your sales people for new prices for next week, they will be more reasonable than they have been.
Oysters should remain very constant and steady in price and the quality of Oysters always improves as cold weather hits, especially Southern Oysters. These become a real value at this time. This also is a really good time to look at Mussels. We are now carrying three types of Mussels. We carry a Maine Mussel, of course we carry our PEI and we are starting to bring in the Mediterranean Mussels out of Washington State which are very similar to the Mussels which are grown in Europe. This is why people always thought the European Mussels were superior to ours. It is a slightly different species. We think it’s a matter of taste and preference.
Clams should be plentiful. We will start bringing more and more West Coast product as the season develops and it’s an item that we should become more competitive with as we are trying to figure out unique transportation and ways to get the product into the Southeast.
The Land Lovers’ Protein Report
Painted Hills Natural Beef has had some production issues over the last four weeks. It seems that Whole Foods and Chipotles Mexican Restaurant have driven the price of all-natural, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, birthed-to-box Beef up and a couple of the ranchers who are in the Painted Hills program have decided to temporarily leave for greener pastures; the green meaning more money.
So Whole Foods is now affecting Painted Hills Beef. Painted Hills has assured us that they have had to increase the prices that they are paying their ranchers and have gotten everybody back. This is the first week that we will see a good harvest from them and we will have good supplies in stock by the middle of next week on all items except for boneless ribeyes which will probably be the following week.
It is really a testament to the Painted Hills brand and quality that Whole Foods and Chipotles have targeted their beef and ranchers in particular as opposed to going into the marketplace and trying to find their own product.
We do have some other all-natural, birth-to-box product from Creekstone in hand as well as Montana Ranch Piedmontese Beef. For those who are wondering we are now carrying a upper ⅔ Angus program on Premium Choice Angus Beef of conventionally raised beef.
We also have portions to match at very, very comparative prices. When you look in the box we think you will see that the quality and grade is exceptional, especially compared to what you may be getting locally. In addition, Inland Seafood is now representing what we consider to be the finest Chicago Beef House in the United States, Meats By Linz. It is a family operation run by the Linz family and is a third generation meat company that, in four tests over the last two weeks, has beaten the Famous Brothers meat company from Chicago.
Meat by Linz is an artisan meat company. They hand cut by skilled butchers and also do dry-aged prime product that is second to none. Very expensive but when only the best will do this is what you want to look at for sure.
We have a good inventory of all natural domestic Lamb as well as Le Quebecois and Marcho Farms all-natural Veal for the holiday season. The folks at Eden Farms All-natural Berkshire Pork have given us an extra allocation of Pork since we have done such a good job of moving their product. They have doubled the amount of product that they have made available to us.
For all the Land Lover Protein products that we carry, if you would like some insight into them please contact Phil Fortson, our specialty protein director for information Phil.Fortson@Inlandseafood.com or call him at the office to ask him about our programs. He can answer any questions that you may have as well as walk you through all the special characteristics that you may want on any of the all-natural and conventional top-end proteins. He’ll help expedite any special cuts that you may need.