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USDA awards contracts for nearly $150M in Alaska salmon and pollock products

Susan Slater
/
Wikimedia Commons

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded nearly $150 million in contracts to purchase Alaska salmon and pollock products from a handful of major seafood processors.

The bulk of the contracts are going to purchase canned pink and red salmon, with the lion’s share of around $68 million awarded to Seattle-based OBI Seafoods. A contract for roughly $33 million was awarded to Peter Pan Seafood, also based in Washington state.

The USDA will also purchase around $48 million in pollock products from Canadian seafood company High Liner Foods and Massachusetts-based Channel Fish Processing.

Alaska’s congressional delegation has applauded the move. In January, state lawmakers sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture saying that the purchases are “badly needed to help stabilize market conditions and decrease inventories.”

While the salmon and pollock purchases have been characterized by some as a bailout, supporters like the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) say otherwise.

Bruce Schactler, director of the ASMI’s Global Food Aid Program, recently told SeafoodSource that the contracts are a result of a competitive bidding process and that “the government is getting a great deal.”

Schactler also touted the fact that the salmon and pollock products are ultimately destined for key federal nutrition programs, which he says currently fail to provide adequate access to seafood products nationwide.

In 2023, the USDA purchased a little more than $200 million worth of Alaska seafood products, also mostly salmon and pollock.

Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.
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