Peter Pan Seafood shook up the world’s largest wild salmon run June 19 with the announcement it will pay a base price of $1.10 per pound for sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The price upholds reports of a strong market for wild sockeye and is a welcome development for Bristol Bay fishermen, who were disappointed by last season’s base price of $0.75.

Peter Pan’s announcement also represents a disruption in the recent buying habits of processors in Bristol Bay, where typically ex-vessel prices are not announced until late July, when most of the landings are in.

“The early price is offered to intentionally put the fleet at ease that they will receive a fair price for the long hours and hard work they are about to endure participating in the world’s largest sockeye fishery. Moreover, Peter Pan hopes the surprise early announcement, with a significant bump over 2020, helps fishermen and their families plan their finances for the year in this great time of uncertainty,” the company said in a news release.

Once one company announces a base price, other buyers are essentially obligated to match that price or risk losing their fishermen to a higher bidder. That means major processors like OBI Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, and Silver Bay Seafoods will all likely be paying out the same base price.

“We are checking the boxes and keeping our promises,” Peter Pan Vice President of Operations Jon Hickman said. “This is the first time in many years that a major processor has posted a price this early in the season, with most waiting until the majority of the Bristol Bay harvest has been completed.”

Under new ownership since the beginning of the year, Peter Pan also made waves in the Copper River fishery last month when it offered $12.60 for early-season sockeye.

Despite its longtime presence in Bristol Bay, Peter Pan has been falling behind other large processors in recent years, in particular Silver Bay Seafoods and Trident Seafoods. Peter Pan's new ownership group, comprised of Northwest Fish, Na’-nuk Investment Fund and RRG Global Partners Fund, hopes to reinstate Peter Pan’s relevance in Bristol Bay and throughout Alaska, company representatives have said.

"Peter Pan is implementing a new strategy this year that includes producing more value-added products and exporting less work outside of the U.S. One of the core values at new Peter Pan is to innovate and challenge convention, rewarding fresh ideas and continuous improvement," the company said. "Leaders at Peter Pan note it may be somewhat unconventional to put out a base price so early, but are confident they can do it because of its new strategy and deep market penetration."

This article was originally published on SeafoodSource.com and is republished here with permission.

Brian Hagenbuch is National Fisherman's products editor, a contributing editor to SeafoodSource and a Bristol Bay fisherman. He is based in Seattle.

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