Analyzing the Copper River Salmon Supply Chain

Considering that I'm currently in the process of recovering from a long, foodie week, I thought the timing was impeccable to highlight a rather fascinating supply chain -- that of the Copper River King Salmon. For those not in the know, according to The Wall Street Journal, Copper River King Salmon, which is only in season for a few weeks a year, goes for over $30 bucks a pound (up from $1.40 twenty years ago when it was considered better suited for canning than top Zagat-rated restaurants).

The Copper River Supply Chain is fascinating indeed. Consider how the fish you might consume is "ensnared in a gill net, sometime between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m [on the water] and by that evening ... [it is] sold off to one of the big seafood processors in Cordova, Alaska, then loaded onto an Alaska Airlines 737-400 carrying over 24,000 pounds of Copper River king." Then, buyers eagerly await their allocation at West-coast airports who upon collecting their allocation, immediately filet, divide and sell "to the customers on the waiting list." And then it makes it to your purveyor or restaurant table, less than 48 hours after being caught. Talk about expediting! But if you’ve ever tasted a bite, you’ll realize that it’s worth every penny.

Jason Busch

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