Fears over salmon market forces

It is Friday morning in Billingsgate. Fish of all shapes and sizes, gleaming and glistening, from many parts of the world. White-coated porters scurrying about their business. With the exception of some stands offering shellfish, salmon is the predominant species.

Some stalls sell it by the fish — £10 for smaller, £12 for larger. Sold by the kilo, prices ranged from £3.90 to £4.80 last Friday for a two- to three-kilo salmon. But an upward trend was anticipated.

Paul Webber of J Bennett, probably the biggest salmon seller in the market, reported that over the last year, two-to-three-kilo fish have risen by 25 per cent in price. Fish weighing three-to-four kilos — the most popular size — are up by 40 per cent, while the bigger fish, four-to-seven kilos, have risen by as much as 45 per cent.

“It is mainly because of the shortage in Chile and Americans coming here to buy as much as they can at whatever price it is sold. Everyone else has to pay the same.

Another issue is that the vast majority of salmon farms are owned by a handful of multi-national companies.There are only a small number of independents. “The big companies can pretty much dictate the price.”

Last updated: 4:38pm, September 23 2009