Russian seafood products – primarily salmon roe – compete in the U.S. at much lower prices.
In a white paper from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) – the US state’s official seafood marketing arm – writes that US/Russia exports & imports are a one-way street that only benefits the former Soviet state.
Since 2014, there has been a Russian embargo on food products from the U.S. and other western nations bans all Alaska seafood products (except canned salmon, which is not exported to Russia in large volumes).
Russia represented a roughly USD 60 million market for Alaska seafood prior to the embargo, it wrote. However, Russia continues to export seafood to the U.S. almost entirely duty-free.
Prior to the embargo, Russia was the second most important export market for Alaska salmon roe after Japan. In 2013, without taking into account transshipments, the two markets took roughly 64% of all Alaska salmon roe exports, leaving no single comparable market for Alaska salmon roe other than Japan when the Russia market closed.
Salmon roe, primarily pink, accounted for 76.4 per cent of this export value in 2013, and the majority of export value in previous years as well.
The ASMI calculated that the value of Russian seafood imported by the U.S. has grown 69 per cent since 2013 (though mainly through crab but with some salmon) the year preceding the Russian embargo. For example, around 2000 tonnes of frozen sockeye salmon worth over USD 16.7 million, entered the US last December.
It all ultimately benefits Putin’s Russia. Massive investments are underway to increase and modernise capacity by building more than 20 new processing plants and 90 new fishing vessels by the year 2030. The plan also includes the launch of a new marketing and supply chain strategy called “The Russian Fish.”
Total investments in the Russian fishery sector, including shipbuilding, plant building, aquaculture development and marketing, between 2018-2025 are estimated to reach USD 6.9 billion.