Trade and Markets

There seems to be a slightly better supply situation for octopus, so some easing of prices can be expected. Demand has been slower because of the generally difficult economic conditions, although Japan is now importing significantly larger volumes than last year. For squid, the supply situation might be tighter, and trade would then contract with higher prices. Cuttlefish supplies are still tight and prices are continuing on an upward trend.

The European fish processing industry is heavily reliant on raw materials imported from third countries. Almost two thirds of the total supply of fish to the EU is imported and for whitefish this figure is estimated to be close to 90%, according to the latest edition of the Finfish Study* produced by AIPCE-CEP, the European Fish Processors and Traders Association. The study analyses the importance of imported seafood for the European processing industry, showing how supply trends reflect increasing demand for value-added seafood in the EU.

Campaigns to increase seafood consumption in Peru, Brazil and Chile are expected to have a positive effect on artisanal fishermen and local communities who make a living from catching bivalve molluscs and in small-scale aquaculture and fisheries. They will also benefit aquaculture producers who are facing declining exports to the EU market.

The severe El Niño conditions forecast earlier in the year have been downgraded to neutral/weak for the Pacific basin and northern hemisphere winter of 2012-2013. However, reduced quotas and poor weather conditions for Peruvian fleets, combined with strong demand across the market, are likely to put upward pressure on fishmeal prices. Meanwhile, fish oil supply continues to stagnate, and soymeal and oilseed markets remain volatile.

When a female shrimp that had been caught in the wild spawned for the first time in a test facility in Florida in 1973 the farming of Whiteleg Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), usually known simply as white shrimp, began. It has been an unprecedented success story, for today this species is the most produced shrimp in the world’s shrimp farms. Production is stable and brings forth such large quantities that supply sometimes even exceeds demand.

The economic crisis is affecting sales in Europe, where imports are down. The picture is mixed with regard to octopus supplies. The EU claims stocks off North West Africa are over-exploited, but at the same time octopus shipments from Morocco and Mauritania are up. The Japanese market picked up in 2012.

Tuna prices have increased further for delivery to Asian canners, indicating lower supplies than current demand. This rise may influence prices in other regions in Latin America and Africa. Following this trend canned tuna prices are also on the increase. Meanwhile the sashimi tuna market in Japan is firming up in preparation for the spring festival in April/May. The USA market for non-canned tuna has been stable throughout the last year and this trend may continue in 2013 as well.

The recent upward price trend is taking place against a backdrop of one of the largest ever increases in production volume in 2012, evidence of a genuine strengthening of underlying demand. Emerging markets are also presenting increasingly attractive opportunities and suppliers are generally optimistic about 2013. The situation in Chile remains delicate, however, with further industry consolidation looking likely as producers try to adapt to the new regulations while fighting rising costs and the continuing threat of disease.

The European fish and seafood processing industry relies on a consistent supply of raw materials to satisfy growing consumer demand from both domestic and export markets. Recently, Matthias Keller, vice president of the European Federation of National Organisations of Importers and Exporters of Fish (CEP), delivered a presentation to representatives of the Dutch fish-processing industry. He delivered four key messages.

The frozen skipjack price remains strong at USD 2 300-2 400/tonne for delivery to Bangkok. During early June, there was a softening in the price to USD 2 150/tonne that lasted for a short period. Marketers indicate that prices have bottomed out and could possibly increase again in a short time. In the high-end sashimi and non-canned tuna trade, demand remains low this year in the largest market, Japan. However, the positive trend continues in the US market, which could be considered as the second most important market for non-canned tuna including sashimi tuna.

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