North American Salmon Market Size

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North American Salmon Market Size

Some top players in the North American salmon market include Mowi US, Cooke Seafood, and High Liner Foods. Additionally, some key trends in the salmon industry include land-based farming, increased sustainability practices, and balancing innovation with fish welfare.

Importers and Producers

  • An extensive search of industry reports, market research reports, and other media sources did not uncover any details on the largest salmon suppliers in North America. While we did find details on the largest seafood companies in the world, the largest salmon producers in the world, and the acquisition of a U.S. salmon importer by Bakkafrost, there was no data specific to the largest suppliers of salmon in North America.
  • Seafood Source also published a list of the top 10 seafood suppliers in North America. While this was helpful at uncovering companies to look at, the lack of focus on salmon meant it did not provide the necessary data.
  • We were able to determine that in 2018, North America accounted for 147,500 tonnes of the 2.2 million tonnes of gutted weight of Atlantic salmon harvested. Since the estimated total Atlantic salmon consumption in North America for 2020 is 600,000 metric tons, this is a clear indication that the biggest suppliers in North America are importers, rather than producers.
  • We then tried to examine the annual reports of several of the top producers to see if they discussed who their import partners were in various countries. Some companies examined included Mowi, Leroy Seafood Group, and Cermaq Group. This did not provide any details on potential importers to examine.
  • Cooke Aquaculture was the largest salmon producer headquartered in North America, but as a private company, they are not required to produce an annual report and do not appear to do so.
  • Due to the lack of publicly available information, we were unable to determine who the top producers and importers of Atlantic salmon are in North America. However, using a combination of the reports we found, we did identify some top players as Marine Harvest (Mowi) USA, Cooke Seafood, and High Liner Foods. Provided below are some key details on each company.

Mowi US

  • Mowi's revenue for 2018 was €3,749.8 million, which is equivalent to $4.1 billion (1 EUR = 1.08461 USD). The annual report did not break down revenue by region. However, Seafood Source's report on top North American seafood producers reported that the 2017 revenue for Mowi USA was $552.4 million.
  • Although it can't be confirmed if the North American revenue is only for salmon, that species is the focus of Mowi USA.
  • Mowi USA has two offices in the U.S., one in Florida and one in Texas.
  • In 2018, the U.S. consumed 427,900 metric tons of salmon produced by Mowi. Although it is not clear where the Mowi salmon consumed in the U.S. is imported from, the majority of fresh Atlantic salmon eaten in the U.S. is imported from Canada.
  • Mowi, still known as Marine Harvest in 2016, with slaughter volume of about 375,000 metric tons, produced more than double the salmon volume than any other company in the world. The company has three facilities in North America.
  • Mowi supplies both retailers and food service providers and has a larger portfolio of brands. Their brands include Mowi Salmon, Harbour Salmon, Ducktrap River Maine, and Marine Harvest.

Cooke Seafood

  • Cooke Seafood's revenue for 2018 was reported as $2.4 billion. According to Seafood Source, the North American revenue for the company in 2017 was $1.37 billion. There was no publicly available information that indicated what portion of this revenue was related to salmon. However, it was reported that Cooke sells 115 million pounds of salmon and 35 million pounds of trout annually.
  • The company headquarters are located in New Brunswick, Canada, and they have production facilities throughout North America, including in Alaska, Washington, Virginia, Maine, and Nova Scotia.
  • Cooke Aquaculture produced 77,000 metric tons of slaughter volume in 2016, and is the largest salmon producer headquartered in North America. Although there are no details available on how much of the volume is attributable to North America, since over half of the company's revenue comes from North America, it is logical to assume that a large portion of the volume is also attributable to North America.
  • Some of Cooke's brands include True North Seafood Company, Omega Protein, and Cooke Seafood USA.
  • Based on Cooke's acquisition of All Seas Wholesale, it was determined that Cooke supplies both retailers and food service providers.

High Liner Foods

  • High Liner's revenue for 2018 was $1.048 billion. Since they only operate in North America, this also represents their North American revenue. Salmon represented 14.1% of their sales, or $147.8 million (1.048 billion x 14.1%)
  • The company's headquarters are located in Nova Scotia, Canada, and in 2014 they opened a U.S. office in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Additionally, they have locations in California, Virginia, and Boston.
  • Although no numbers were publicly available, High Liner Foods owns Atlantic Trading, which is "one of the largest importers of frozen Atlantic salmon into the U.S."
  • High Liner supplies seafood to retailers, restaurants, and institutions.

Additional Helpful Findings

  • According to the NOAA, about 90% of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, with $20.16 billion being imported in 2016. The top four species imported are shrimp, salmon, crab, and whitefish. However, Sustainable Fisheries reports that this number is closer to 65% since domestic fish that is sent overseas for processing is often being counted as imported when it returns to the U.S. to be sold.
  • According to NOAA Fisheries, in December 2019, the U.S. imported 348.4 million kilos of Atlantic salmon in 2019, which was valued at $3.6 billion. We converted kilograms to metric tons for a total of 348,400 (348.4 million/1,000) metric tons of Atlantic salmon in 2019. Since this monthly total far exceeded the annual totals we found from 2016, this made it clear that importers were supplying more salmon in the U.S. than producers.
  • In 2017, Americans consumed 2.4 pounds of salmon per capita, which is approximately 787.7 million pounds [2.4 x 328.2 million (2017 population)]. This is equivalent to approximately 357,294 tonnes (787.7 million/2,204.6).
  • Canada is the third largest supplier of fresh and chilled salmon products in the world, and the U.S. is the top export market for Canada.


Identifying Trends

  • To identify trends in the North American salmon industry we looked for trend reports on industry sites such IntraFish and Undercurrent News; reports from market research companies such as IMARC and Research and Markets; and government and international organization sites such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and NOAA. Since we only relied on reports by experts in the salmon industry, any trends identified were considered valid, but we did focus on those that were discussed in multiple sources over those that were only mentioned by one industry expert.
  • Although this strategy allowed us to identify a few trends specific to the North American salmon market, there was limited information specific to the region. Therefore, the trends provided below are a mixture of global trends and those specific to North America.

Land-based Salmon Farming

  • Land-based salmon farming uses recirculating water systems to produce salmon in large tanks rather than in pens in the ocean.
  • In 2018, it was announced that on July 4 the first Atlantic salmon harvested from a land-based aquaculture facility in the U.S. would go to market.
  • In 2019, Atlantic Sapphire was constructing and operating a $350 million facility in Miami. Even though construction was ongoing, the salmon tanks were already running and producing. The company has a goal of producing half the U.S. salmon by 2030.
  • The Bluehouse facilities eliminate the risk of diseases and gives increased control over the entire growing process.
  • Aquabanq is another U.S. company raising salmon with a land-based system, and Kuterra was the first land-based producer in North America.

Increased Sustainability Practices

  • The Global Salmon Initiative, which touts many of the largest salmon producers as members, published a 2018 report on sustainability which found the industry was making tremendous progress.
  • Highlights from the report include a 50% reduction in sea lice treatments by member companies, as well as a 120% increase in the use of non-medicinal treatment methods.
  • In terms of fish feed, there was an 11% reduction in the use of marine ingredients in the feed, and the use of fish meal decreased by 17%.
  • Aquaculture has allowed salmon to be produced with a lower environmental impact, which means many consumers who are interested in food that is environmentally friendly are more willing to purchase farmed salmon.
  • As an example of how sustainability impacts consumers decision-making, in the U.S. salmon has overtaken tuna to become the second most preferred fish, behind shrimp.

Balancing Innovation and Fish Welfare

  • While innovation is important in fish farming, as it is in all businesses looking to grow and thrive, implementation of new technologies needs to be measured to ensure that the fish can handle the changes and that the changes allow for a healthy environment for the fish. In fact, fish welfare was one of the main themes discussed at AquaNor 2019.
  • A new mooring system developed by Gael force Group was installed at farms in Newfoundland and Labrador, its first use in Canada. Gael Force made small tweaks to existing systems which allowed for more efficient and cost effective production, without affecting the environment for the fish.
  • Aqualine introduced the first winching system to raise and lower nets. These systems are steadier and quieter than traditional systems, which means less stress for the fish.
  • Another example of technology that is making a difference is Cermaq's iFarm technology. This allows for digital recognition of individual fish so they can be tracked and treated individually. The economic impact of this is potentially huge because rather than treating all the fish in a pen for a disease, treatment can be targeted to only the fish that need it, saving money.

Genetically Modified Salmon

  • In 2019, the FDA reversed a ban on genetically banned salmon being sold in the U.S.
  • It is unclear what the result of this will be as there are concerns over inadequate labeling requirements for the fish. With consumers wanting more transparency around their food, the company could be hurt if they aren't upfront about the product.
  • An additional challenge is that there are many retailers in the U.S. who have committed to not selling genetically modified seafood. "These include Albertsons, Aldi, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Meijer, Safeway, Target, Trader Joe's, Walmart, Whole Foods and a large number of natural and organic food retailers. "
  • The economic impact of this trend is not yet clear.

New Food Trends

  • In 2017, there was a 643% increase in poke bowl orders in the U.S. This has a direct impact on the salmon market as producers and suppliers need to make the fish available to restaurants. In 2018, it was expected that the popularity of the bowls would increase an average of 91% per month.
  • Toronto was one area leading the way in seafood fusion trends, and sushi burritos were one menu item that was being served. One reason the burritos are popular is because they offer the taste of sushi with the convenience of a grab and go food.
  • Sushi Burrito, which offers burritos, bowls and tacos that feature raw fish, started in California but has expanded to Chicago. The growth of restaurants like these means that salmon suppliers will have to provide the fish in different formats, for example cubed, rather than strips.

Easily Consumable Food

  • North Americans have an increased preference for easily consumable foods, which has led to an increase in the variety and amount of salmon products available. These varieties include salmon that is frozen, canned, smoked, and turned into jerky, spreads or oils.
  • While no additional details on this trend were available, it was included as being relevant.