Sockeye Salmon

Written by Jared Vincenti
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Known for its strong coloration, sockeye salmon is the most common canned salmon. Its vivid red/orange flesh keeps its color in a can, and is attractive in cooking. In addition, the color comes from a pigment that is also a healthy antioxidant, making it a healthy choice.

Fishing for Sockeye

Sockeye salmon are only found in the Pacific Ocean, and no further south than Northern California. Thus, the bulk of sockeye that is caught commercially comes from Alaska and Western Canada, where fisheries bank on their large numbers each year. The sockeye run only lasts a few weeks each year, but 10 to 30 million fish are caught each year.

With such a boom-oriented system, it is a small wonder than most of the sockeye ends up in cans. Sockeye also makes a good dried salmon, but curing the meat takes a long time, and freezer storage is expensive. In the end, the bulk of the catch is canned, but recently trends have been changing.

When last reported, nearly half the sockeye catch was being sold frozen rather than in cans. This is probably because the growing market for salmon emphasizes the health benefits. Canned fish is high in sodium, so the health-conscious market demands fresh or fresh-frozen fish. This changing demand is reshaping the market for sockeye, and looks to be setting a trend for salmon consumption on the whole.


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