Price shock subdues buyer inclination

Aslak Berge

On hot summer days, Mercadona prefers to offer its customers cod rather than salmon.

The queue at the seafood counter is building up. Bright, glossy cod, turbot and best-seller merluza (hake) have snapped up the most eye-catching spots at Mercadona. Gutted, fresh fish with head rest on beds of crushed ice in the local supermarket in the town of Son Caliu, near Palmanova on Mallorca.

Cutlets of Norwegian farmed salmon are shoved out to the very end of the display counter. The price is somewhat higher and demand lower compared to the easily sold hake and cod.

“Mitad o completo. The price is €8.95 per kilo. You can get a half or a whole – the price is the same. We can cut it up for you,” the cheerful sales assistant with the nametag “Amor” tells SalmonBusiness.

Norwegian salmon has been banished to farthest left of the fresh goods counter at Mercadona in Son Caliu. PHOTO: Aslak Berge

Gross profit
The spot price has dropped back in recent weeks, but discounts or promotion campaigns are – for the time being – out of the question for Mercadona. The high prices for purchasing salmon this spring and summer have put a damper on the supermarket giant’s profit margins and buying enthusiasm.

Mercadona is Spain’s largest grocery chain, and fish is a matter to be taken very seriously on the Iberian Peninsula.

No one in Europe consumes more seafood that the paella and bacalao-loving Spaniards. The ten-metre wide fresh goods counter is certainly testimony to that. Here a wide range is offered including squid, sea bass, mussels, sardines, monkfish, sole, shrimp, trout and sea bream.

Something for every palate.

Over the last two-three years the salmon has however enjoyed a hefty upsurge in popularity.

So far this year Spanish fish importers have purchased 26,625 tonnes of salmon – an improvement of nine percent compared with the same period last year – according to export statistics from the Norwegian Seafood Council.