Pink Salmon

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

Market Name(s): Pink salmon

Contact Purchasing
Pink Salmon
  • Primary Source: Alaska, B.C., Washington
  • Season: July - September
  • Primary Fishing Method: Seine, gillnet, troll

Size Range:

Max Size: 5 lbs

Max Size: 2-4 lbs

Product forms:

FRESH: H&G, skin-on, pinbone-in fillets;

FROZEN: H&G, skinless, boneless portions, blocks.

Storage & Handling

Properly handled and well iced at 32°F, pinks will remain in good condition for up to 7 days after harvest. Frozen pinks will remain in good condition up to a year if stored at -5° to -15°F.

Cooking Suggestions

Pinks have the lowest oil content of the five Pacific salmon species, and a more delicate, trout-like flavor. They are also the smallest of the salmon, and therefore usually don’t have very large fillets. For this reason, broiling or grilling is not recommended, as the heat can dry out the fillet. Instead try poaching or baking. Marinating the salmon ahead of time will brighten up its flavor, or try a nice, buttery red currant sauce to increase its flavor profile.

Selling Points

  • Along with chums, pinks offer an inexpensive salmon alternative.
  • Good quality pinks are an affordable, whole fish option in targeted markets.


  • Dry skin, excessive scale loss
  • Soft flesh.
  • Bones protruding from belly cavity.
  • Gaping in fillets.
  • Bruises and blood spots.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Close relationship with Alaska processors ensures consistent supply of fresh and frozen pink salmon


This is the big salmon—at least in terms of volume. In a good summer, more than 200 million pink salmon will return to the rivers and streams of North America. In terms of size, though, pinks are the smallest of the five species of Pacific salmon, averaging just 3 pounds apiece. To handle the huge volume of pinks, salmon canners have been cranking out 1-pound talls for more than 100 years. These days, though, more pinks are being routed to fillets lines, where they are used in a growing variety of value-added seafood products.

In a typical year, pinks will account for about 60% of the total North American wild salmon harvest. More than 90% of the harvest comes from Alaska. In a good year, more than 200,000 tons of pinks are caught by North American fishermen.

Pink salmon harvests are larger in odd-numbered years. In Alaska, for example, from 1988 to 1998, even-year pink harvests averaged 121,000 tons, while odd-year harvests were 154,000 tons. Although Alaska processors have developed markets for fresh and frozen pinks, more than 85% of the Alaska pink catch is still canned. In the U.S., the largest market for canned pinks is in the Southeast, where salmon croquettes are a popular food. The U.K. is the largest single export market for canned pinks. Pink salmon harvests on both sides of the Pacific have increased over the past 20 years, as major investments have been made in salmon hatcheries, which have boosted production in areas such as Prince William Sound in Alaska and the Sakhalin Islands in Russia. Russia has a large pink salmon resource, with catches that can reach 200,000 tons in odd years. Russian pinks tend to be larger and have redder meat than Alaska pinks. A high percentage of Russian pinks are caught in traps and as a result are of the highest quality.

A large quantity of Russia’s pink salmon harvest is exported to China, where it is processed into a variety of skinless, boneless salmon products, which are exported to the U.S. Alaska trollers catch a small amount of pinks and freeze them at sea. Although troll pinks cost about twice as much as frozen net-caught pinks, they are an excellent value. Because it has less oil than other salmon, the meat of a pink, which is a pale red (hence the name “pink”), is mild tasting, almost trout-like.