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Originally published November 3, 2014 at 5:27 PM | Page modified November 4, 2014 at 9:17 AM

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Americans ate more salmon than tuna last year

Salmon’s big gains with U.S. consumers came in a year when overall per capita consumption of seafood was almost flat, with the total per capita consumption of 14.5 pounds up from 14.4 pounds in 2012.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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U.S. consumers favored salmon in 2013, with per capita consumption surging by 34 percent for this mainstay of Seattle-based seafood processors.

That was enough for salmon — both wild and farm-raised offerings — to push past tuna and claim the No. 2 spot on the list of the nation’s most-consumed seafood.

In 2013, salmon consumption was topped only by shrimp, according to an analysis by the National Fisheries Institute based on information from NOAA Fisheries.

It is unclear all the factors that drove Americans toward salmon in 2013, and whether this trend will continue.

But 2013 was a huge year for Alaska’s wild salmon harvest, with a record run of 272 million fish caught in state waters and worth $691 million to fishermen.

The harvest pushed a lot of product into U.S. markets.

Most of these salmon were pinks, traditionally a lower-cost offering and usually packed into cans, but increasingly marketed in fillets that may be offered fresh or frozen and vacuum-sealed.

The abundance of pinks comes at a time when the industry has been trying to pitch canned salmon to a new generation of athletic, younger consumers as a healthful, low-cost protein dish.

“We’ve actually been sponsoring some things like the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathons and the Marine Corps Marathon,” said Larry Andrews, retail marketing director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Andrews said that new recipes, such as wild Alaska salmon quinoa, are helping to broaden the appeal of canned salmon, which often is less expensive than canned tuna.

In 2013, salmon, with a per capita consumption of 2.7 pounds, was still well behind first-place shrimp with a per capita consumption of 3.6 pounds.

But salmon’s big gains with U.S. consumers came in a year when overall per capita consumption of seafood was almost flat, with the total per capita consumption of 14.5 pounds up from 14.4 pounds in 2012.

Other seafood to make the 2013 National Fisheries Institute’s top 10 list include pollock, which is Alaska’s largest seafood harvest; cod; catfish; crab; and clams.

Some processors say salmon sales continue to be strong in 2014.

But this year’s harvest of Alaska wild salmon is down from last year’s record haul. The preliminary tally of 156.6 million fish represents a sizable decline from the 2013 record harvest.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or hbernton@seattletimes.com



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