Ahi prices are up, but there should be no shortage of sashimi this New Year's, Maui fish retailers and wholesalers say.
"It should be available," said Victor Daubert, general manager of wholesaler Valley Isle Seafood in Kahului. "Ever since Christmas, the prices seem to go up and up."
On Friday, he said the wholesale price was $18 a pound for top-grade ahi or big-eye tuna, translating into a retail price of about $25 a pound. The next highest grade was retailing for $22 to $23 a pound, followed by a medium grade for $15 to $17 a pound, Daubert said.
Oki’s Seafood Corner owner Eliza Garcia cuts a locally caught ahi into sashimi blocks Friday at the Kahului Foodland.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The retail price for poke-grade ahi was $12 to $14 a pound, he said.
Daubert said the wholesaler had probably sold 1,000 pounds of ahi on Friday. With retailers still placing orders, sales could double on New Year's Day, he said.
The Oahu fish auction, where wholesalers make purchases, will be open through Monday, Daubert said.
"The supply is still fairly strong," he said. "It's a matter of how much you want to spend. I don't see a short supply if the grocery stores want to pay the price for it."
At Oki's Seafood Corner located in Foodland Kahului, owner Elisa Garcia said the nice but not top-grade ahi was selling for $18 a pound, about the same as last year.
"The prices are a little bit high," she said.
The business was still taking orders for platters of sashimi and poke.
Orders for platters and trays also still were being taken at Takamiya Market in Happy Valley at prices ranging from $22.99 to $119.95, said employee Colette Kanai. She said the demand seemed to be about the same as last year.
At Whole Foods Market in Kahului, seafood team leader Josh Conner said both prices and demand seemed to have increased this year.
"Everybody wants sashimi," he said. "We're still keeping the poke prices low even though we're using higher-priced tuna."
There's also more demand for other seafood, including oysters and caviar for New Year's, Conner said. "It seems there's more demand for everything," he said. "There are a lot more people on the island, and they are spending more money."
He said the store will be open New Year's Day and will continue to receive fresh fish deliveries.
"Traditionally, we get don't buy enough tuna and end up with two to three deliveries," he said.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.