Atlantic Salmon

Salmo salar

Market Name(s): Atlantic salmon, often identified by country of origin e.g., Norwegian salmon, Chilean salmon etc.

Contact Purchasing
Atlantic Salmon
  • Primary Source: Chile, Canada, Norway, Washington state and Maine
  • Season: Year-round
  • Primary Fishing Method: Farmed in net pens

Size Range:

Max Size: 20 lbs

Avg. Size: 8-15 lbs

Product forms:

FRESH: Skinless and skin-on, boneless fillets; whole, head-on, gutted.

FROZEN: Boneless portions.


Storage & Handling

Properly handled and well iced at 32°F, Atlantics will remain in good condition for up to 14 days after harvest. Frozen Atlantics will remain in good condition up to a year if stored at -5° to -15°F, although some color loss may occur after nine months.

Cooking Suggestions

Although it is relatively high in oil content, Atlantic salmon is very adaptable to a variety of cooking methods. Poaching, for example, is quite popular with chefs, especially in a court bouillon. Be sure to bring the court bouillon to a full boil before adding the salmon and be careful not overcook it. Served hot or cold, poached salmon is an excellent presentation. Atlantic salmon is also ideal for grilling, baking and broiling. Served raw, Atlantic salmon makes a superior sashimi or tartar with an infused oil.

Selling Points

  • One of America’s most popular fish, consumption is growing every year.
  • Excellent value as production costs have decreased.
  • Consistent, high-quality fresh product available 52 weeks a year.
  • Suitable for almost any foodservice or retail application.


  • Gelatinous flesh from kudoa.
  • Dry skin.
  • Gaping in fillets.
  • Soft, mushy texture.
  • Scale loss.
  • Cloudy eyes.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Full range of farmed salmon products from around the world
  • Exclusive programs with growers allow development of wide variety of custom programs with customers
  • Purchasing from farms with controlled growing and harvesting environment guarantees freshest fish


It’s not quite chicken of the sea, but it’s getting close. Atlantic salmon are now farmed around the world, from Australia to Norway, Chile to China. And fish farmers are getting very good at it. Since 1990, they have cut their production costs almost in half, taking a fish that was once served only in the most expensive restaurants to seafood cases around Europe, North America and Asia.

The U.S. appetite for farmed Atlantic salmon has grown rapidly. Between 1990 and 1999 U.S. farmed Atlantic consumption has grown from less than 25,000 tons to about 150,000 tons.

Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, accounts for more than 95% of all the pen-raised salmon in the world. Norway, which harvests about 350,000 tons a year, and Chile, which harvests about 120,000 tons, are the two leading producers. It takes about 30 to 36 months to raise an Atlantic salmon from an egg to a market size of about 10 pounds. 

Chile is the leading supplier of Atlantic salmon to the U.S. market. In 2000, Chile exported almost 60,000 tons of fresh Atlantic salmon to the U.S.--more than 95% of which was boneless fillets and portions. The salmon farming industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in recent years. Five large companies now produce more than half of the world’s farmed Atlantic salmon.

Until the early 1990s, Norway was the leading supplier of Atlantic salmon to the U.S. However, in 1991 a successful “anti-dumping” suit filed by Maine salmon farmers led to prohibitive tariffs on fresh, whole Norwegian salmon, making Norwegian salmon prohibitively expensive. That tariff does not apply to fillets or frozen whole fish, both of which are still exported to the U.S.

The development of pin-boning machines is leading to a large increase in U.S. imports of boneless fillets from Canada and Norway. Before a machine can pull salmon bones, however, the fish must be several days old so the muscle tissue can relax.

In the wild, Atlantic salmon are the only salmon that can spawn more than once. Unlike Pacific salmon, which die shortly after spawning, some Atlantics will spawn and return to the sea.

Although there was once a significant commercial fishery for wild Atlantic salmon, conservation measures have reduced this fishery to a few thousand tons, most of which is caught off Greenland and Labrador.