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Price versus value: the cost of quality
7/27/2004
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Why are our fish prices generally higher than those charged by most supermarkets? It’s a question I’m often asked, and one that is easy to answer.

There are several reasons for the price gap, which I’ve summarized below. But I’d like to start by quoting a letter we received from Lynn G. and David F. of Bethlehem, PA:

"After receiving our first Vital Choice purchase of canned salmon, salmon fillets, and blueberries, we were thrilled! The quality of the salmon and blueberries far exceeded our wildest expectations in every aspect. The blueberries are like candy. I don't even have to add any sugar to my blueberry pie recipe, and my husband said he has never before seen or tasted salmon with such color and flavor. In addition, the quality of the customer service and shipping paralleled that of the products. We're on a tight budget, but it's worth every penny!"

These kind comments provide a personal perspective on the true value of Vital Choice products, but there’s more to tell.

Free Shipping First of all, remember that shipping is free on orders exceeding $99. And, we spare you the time, trouble and anxiety of searching out high quality fish by delivering it to your door! Many online competitors' prices will appear lower until the order is completed, at which time significant shipping charges are added. We prefer to spare you the surprise and let you know up front the entire cost of your order. (For shipping charges on orders below $99 click .

Apples and Oranges It is important to compare "apples to apples." Is the salmon at your local supermarket wild or farmed? Is it skinless and boneless? Is it packaged in convenient freezer-ready meal-sized portions? Has the vendor selected only the purest, sustainably harvested fish? Most of the salmon sold in supermarkets is farmed fish that’s mass-produced in near-shore marine feed lots whose hidden societal costs include environmental degradation, lack of regulatory oversight, and low-cost labor. Wild salmon is different from farmed in many important ways: please visit our Vital News pages for additional information.

Quality Costs More The old adage "You get what you pay for" is especially true when it comes to salmon. To get a wild fish from the remote corners of Alaska to your plate in prime condition requires a lot of special care. Along the way there are many obstacles to quality that can interfere to diminish it. Consequently, there are only so many prime fish available and the law of supply and demand dictates that they will cost more.

Unlike supermarkets, which increasingly compete over the limited supply of wild salmon—with price as the primary purchasing factor—Vital Choice quality standards are much higher. Our long history and close ties to the Alaskan commercial fishing industry give us a unique advantage in sourcing the best fish on your behalf, which will almost never be the cheapest.

We have visited stores all over the country and seldom seen frozen wild Alaskan salmon comparable to our products. We were recently in a large natural foods store in New England that was selling dark-skinned frozen Alaskan Coho steaks. Dark skin is synonymous with lower grade salmon. Supermarkets are able to get away with this because most of their customers lack the knowledge to distinguish between good and not-so-good fish.

Many mistakenly believe that "salmon is salmon" or "wild salmon is wild salmon." More so than with any other animal protein, salmon comes in a vast range of quality grades, all of which are eventually sold to someone. It is most unfortunate when consumers experience inferior quality salmon because many will consider the poor flavor indicative of salmon in general and cease eating one of the healthiest and potentially most delicious foods available.

Worry-Free Seafood To our knowledge we are the only seafood company that specifically targets the purest available fish and confirms their purity with routine testing by an independent lab. This is an expensive process that further contributes to our costs, but provides you with valuable purity assurances unavailable from other seafood vendors.

Your Health is Priceless
"Fish is health insurance and most of us lack enough coverage."  —Jean Carper, author of Food: Your Miracle Medicine

"O health, health! The blessing of the rich! the riches of the poor! who can buy thee at too dear a rate, since there is no enjoying this world without thee? Be not then so sparing of your purses... as to abridge the natural course of life."  —Ben Jonson:Volpone, II-1, 1605

It would be hard to think of another food with as many proven health benefits as wild salmon. When considering the cost of Vital Choice products keep in mind the true value of what you're buying. Given the skyrocketing cost of health care and pharmaceutical drugs, what is the value of optimum health? How much would you pay for improved heart, brain, eye and immune system health?

Your time is valuable Our ultra-convenient skinless/boneless products cost more to produce but save you time and trouble. With our ready-to-eat canned salmon and tuna, and quick-thawing frozen portions, a delicious healthful meal is always close at hand. And although packaging and express shipping perishable products add additional costs, please consider how much time you save by having Vital Choice "foods with integrity" delivered to your door.

Hire Your Own Fishermen My partner Dave Hamburg and I spent much of our lives as Alaskan salmon fishermen. We take seriously our commitment to protecting your best interests, and view ourselves as your guides to the world of wild salmon. Dave and I are devoted to seeing that you always receive good value and top quality fish, which doesn't often happen at the supermarket.

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Food Vital Choice is committed to the goal of restoring economic viability to the commercial salmon fishing business. Presently most other small-scale animal protein producers (i.e., cattle, hog, and poultry farmers) are on the verge of bankruptcy. Many have already been driven there by the mega-corporations that forsake food quality to drive every possible penny out of production.

Salmon farming is now exerting this same socioeconomic pressure upon those who risk their lives* to supply us with the healthiest protein on earth. It is vitally important that consumers begin to consider the hidden social, nutritional and environmental costs of cheap food.

*After logging, commercial fishing is the second most dangerous occupation in the U.S., with 71 fatalities per 100,000 workers, making it 16 times more dangerous than the average job. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002.

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