Last night I was at the local Save-On-Foods grocery store. I was curious what a fillet of frozen sockeye costs at this time of the year. An average fillet was about $20 – or $2.99 per 100 grams. That works out to about $13.50 per pound.
Curiously, the sockeye fillet had a “Gold Seal” label on it. The “Gold Seal” name is part of Canfisco (the shortened name for Canadian Fishing Company). Canfisco is owned by the Jimmy Pattison Group of Companies – as is Save-on-Foods.
Canfisco also owns a lot of fishing boats – a substantial part of the British Columbia salmon fishing fleet.
The Pattison Group is Canada’s biggest private company. Jimmy Pattison is one of Canada’s richest people.
Following my curiosity further… I decided to look up what a fishermen was paid to catch that sockeye. Most likely the sockeye probably came from Alaska as British Columbia had a very limited sockeye fishery this year.
Average price for a pound of sockeye this past year in Bristol Bay, Alaska (from Alaska Department of Fish & Game):
$0.70 per pound
This past year almost 31 million sockeye were caught in Bristol Bay representing a landed value of almost $128 million. Coincidentally, Pattison and Canfisco have ownership in some Alaskan salmon processing plants.
I understand the principle of “value-added manufacturing”. Take a raw product – like a log – and turn it into a guitar and one has added significant value to the original log – with the guitar maker probably making much more profit than the logger that cut down the tree.
What I am not so sure about is: how do fisherfolks accept $0.70 per pound for a sockeye and then go to the neighborhood grocery store and see that the item they took the risk to catch is now priced at least 2000% higher as a frozen product?
Sure, there aren’t really too many choices for fisherfolks – they need to sell the fish.
Is there a different way this could be done – ensuring that coastal communities can retain more of that 2000% mark up from fresh caught to frozen in a supermarket?