The Russia-Ukraine conflict has sent salmon prices soaring in supermarkets. (Yonhap)
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens key supplies of energy and food, salmon has proven to be no exception. A ban from flying over Russian airspace is forcing Norway-farmed salmon to take a major detour to reach Asia, driving up freight costs, and ultimately retail prices.
In one supermarket, 100-gram salmon filet prices increased by 15.5 percent, from 3,880 won to 4,480 won. The same day another supermarket lifted prices of its Norway-farmed fresh salmon by 26.4 percent. A 100-gram unit formerly priced at 3,780 won now costs 4,780 won.
“We have seen salmon prices soaring from some $12 to $13 to a whopping $19 to $20 a kilogram in the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Airfreight rates have risen at least threefold since the outbreak of the war,” said an importer of Norwegian salmon.
While supermarkets are reassuring consumers that they have enough stock for immediate supplies, uncertainty surrounding the war is prompting retailers to explore alternatives.
E-mart is looking to import Chilean frozen salmon in case of a prolonged war. Homeplus has turned to Tasmanian salmon from Australia, while Lotte Mart will start selling Tasmanian salmon along with Scottish salmon from April.
Restaurants that offer up salmon dishes are also in distress. Some owners are being forced to make difficult decisions, including lifting prices and eliminating menu items.
King crab prices have also been walloped, as over 90 percent here is imported from Russia.
According to Noryangjin Fish Market’s report on daily seafood prices, the average price of Russian live king crab stood at 69,400 won from March 7 through Friday, marking a 16 percent increase from the 59,800 won during the comparable period in February.
Yet supermarkets seem less concerned about crab than salmon, since Russian king crab and snow crab are not subject to export control, and the bulk of supplies for the second half of March has already been imported and paid for.
“Compared to king crab, salmon will leave consumers feeling a bigger pinch since it’s a much more popular seafood option here,” said a supermarket official. “We are seeking to minimize price hikes by fixing the price of frozen smoked salmon and securing alternative suppliers.”
By Ahn Ju-hee (email@example.com