Can Quality Revitalize the Alaskan Salmon Industry?

Bruce A. Babcock, Quinn Weninger
April 2004  [04-WP 359]

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Suggested citation:

Babcock, B.A. and Q. Weninger. 2004. "Can Quality Revitalize the Alaskan Salmon Industry?" Working paper 04-WP 359. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Declining salmon prices, due primarily to expansion of farmed salmon production, have reduced revenues for Alaska's wild salmon fisheries by roughly 62 percent over the past 10 years. One possibility for reversing this trend is to differentiate wild and farmed salmon in consumer markets through quality improvements and marketing. We use a simple conceptual model to highlight the challenges that Alaska's wild salmon industry must overcome before the industry is likely to see significant revenue gains from increased quality. Our tentative conclusion is that product differentiation could increase profits for wild salmon. However, implementation may require significant departures from traditional production and management practices and possibly an amendment to the Alaska state constitution.

Keywords: product differentiation, salmon, quality assurance.