Small Pelagics: January 2013 Market Report

The herring season looks promising but the dispute over mackerel quotas is still adding uncertainty to supply.


The mackerel war between Iceland and the Faroe Islands on the one side and the EU and Norway on the other is continuing. At the end of September 2012, the EU decided to impose sanctions on Iceland and the Faroes for overfishing mackerel, but the Ministerial Council could not agree on how to implement this decision. Meanwhile, ICES recommended further reductions in overall catch. Denmark is now involved as well, as the Faroes is in fact an autonomous region of Denmark. The dispute is not expected to end soon.

Prices for frozen mackerel were relatively high until mid-summer, but then dropped dramatically in July and August. Iceland and the Faroes supplied 300 000 tonnes of additional mackerel into the market, contributing to the downward pressure on prices. Norwegian exports of mackerel during the first six months of 2012 increased by 28%, to 78 400 tonnes. The average export price per kg fell by 6.7%.

The most important markets for Norwegian mackerel were China, Russia and Japan. During the first half of the year, China and Russia increased their imports from Norway compared with the same period in 2011. However, during the third quarter this changed. China imported considerably less frozen Norwegian mackerel than during the first three quarters of 2011, while Russian imports increased. Meanwhile, German frozen mackerel imports during the first half of the year fell from 15 200 tonnes in 2011 to 13 800 tonnes in 2012. The main suppliers were the UK, Netherlands and Ireland

Japan’s imports of frozen Norwegian mackerel dropped by over 52% during the first three quarters, probably as a result of good domestic landings earlier in the year. Japan has been a very important market for Norwegian mackerel, both because of the high volumes that the Japanese have been buying and because they have focused on quality. These factors translate into higher prices. This year, however, negotiations between Norwegian exporters and Japanese buyers were somewhat protracted.


On the supply side, the outlook is bright. This year there were reports of very good catches in parts of the North Sea. The quality and size of the herring were also good. Record quotas have been set for the North Sea, and the EU has proposed significantly higher herring quotas for the Baltic Sea. However, Norwegian researchers have warned that herring stocks may be facing a collapse because of the rapid growth of mackerel stocks. The two species compete for food, and herring may lose in this competition.

Norwegian exports of frozen herring were stable in the first half of 2012 compared with 2011. However, export volumes declined in the third quarter. The export volume during the first nine months of the year fell by 30%, but prices were up considerably.

Over the past decade, there has been growing demand for frozen herring and herring products. At the present time, the trend seems to be for increasing demand for products like matjes herring, a well-known and loved product in the Netherlands. This may open a new market segment for herring, one that allows higher prices for premium products.

The largest markets for frozen Norwegian herring are Russia, Ukraine and the Netherlands. Practically all the traditional markets for Norwegian herring have shown declines in imports over the past few years, with the exceptions of Russia, Lithuania and Poland. Russia has emerged as the most important market for Norwegian herring, in part because Russia joined the WTO on 22 August 2012 and more predictable trade conditions are foreseen.

In other markets, French imports were slightly down during the first half of 2012, and there were some major shifts among the suppliers. Iceland lost market share, while Norway gained. The Japanese market looked as if it would be stable for a while, but during the first half of this year, herring imports declined by 25%. The market for herring fillets appears to be showing healthy growth, with Germany the largest importer in Europe.

Anchovies and sardines

The anchovy fishery in the Gulf of Cadiz was closed twice in August. It was first closed on the 15th, but reopened a few days later as Spain received 500 tonnes of Portugal’s quota. It was closed again on 31 August in order to ensure a “responsible” fishery.

The ICES anchovy quota has been reduced from 29 000 tonnes in 2012 to 20 700 tonnes for the next season. The quota is divided between Spain and France. This means that a smaller quantity of anchovies will be available, and this will add to the tight supply situation.

In Peru, landings have been dramatically down in 2012. During the first five months of the year, landings of anchovies declined by 54.4% to just 1.2 million tonnes. As a result of the tight supply situation, prices for anchovies have risen sharply in recent months. However, the start of the second season of 2012, which began on 7 August and ends on 31 December, was much better. The TAC for this season is set at 307 000 tonnes.

The canned sardine market seems to be improving in Europe. Imports into the most important markets are up. The two largest importers, France and the UK, both showed increasing imports in 2012.

The USA is also an important market for canned sardines, and actually imports about as much as the EU every year. In the period from 2009 to 2011, US imports of canned sardines grew steadily, but then dropped dramatically in 2012. The largest suppliers of canned sardines to the USA are Thailand, Ecuador and Poland.


Mackerel supplies are uncertain as the dispute between Iceland, the Faroes and the EU drags on and quotas may be reduced. This could have a positive effect on prices, which have been down in the past six months. For herring, the supply situation is bright, and larger landings are expected from the North Sea. Landings of anchovies and sardines have been lower, but the outlook is somewhat better and the supply situation may improve. It is doubtful, however, whether the high anchovy prices at the moment will be much reduced.

Source: FAO Globefish

Bivalves: January 2013 Market Report

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.


In 2012 the Chilean mussels association, Amichile, started a national campaign to promote the “Patagonian Mussel” and is hoping to extend this initiative to the Brazilian market next year. In Brazil, annual consumption of seafood products is 6 kg per capita and the government is trying to increase it to 8 kg per capita.

In the first six months of 2012 there was a significant decline of 19.9% in Spanish exports of mussels, falling from 1 153 tonnes to 924 tonnes. In Canada, however, mussel farmers in Newfoundland said mussel production was experiencing a good year in 2012. Exports of fresh live mussels go primarily to the USA, and the industry is now developing organic certification and products with controlled atmosphere for the US market.

Mussel imports into France went down from 31 100 tonnes to 21 900 tonnes in the first six months of 2012 compared with 2011, a drop of 29% in volume. Imports from Chile dropped from 6 100 tonnes to just 100 tonnes. In Italy, during the same period, demand fell nearly 28% from 17 900 tonnes to 12 800 tonnes, with no Chilean mussels imported during the first half of 2012. In Spain, mussels imports during the first six months of 2012 reached 2 900 tonnes, far behind the 5 500 tonnes that were imported in 2007, before the economic crisis.


Galician clam producers have been complaining about low prices since 2010. Species that used to have a high commercial value not so long ago, such as almeja fina (Ruditapes decussatus), were traded between EUR 6.50/kg and EUR 18/kg in September 2012, depending on the quality. In previous years the price had reached EUR 30/kg. The low prices have contributed to economic losses among producers in Galicia.


Landings of scallops in the USA are expected to be up in 2012, with the increase estimated at about 8.8%. However, imports are sharply down despite higher supply coming out of Japan. Japanese exports of fresh live scallops are reported to be up by 186% this year compared with 2011, when the March earthquake and subsequent contamination fears led to negative consumer perceptions and reduced volumes. Argentina exported 2 924 tonnes of Patagonian scallop (Zygochlamys patagonica) worth USD 34.2 million, according to statistics from the National Health and Agrifood Quality Service (Senasa).
In Europe, demand in France for scallops showed a slight decline in the first six months of 2012, from 12 400 tonnes to 9 600 tonnes, compared with 2011. Argentina became the main supplier with 2 300 tonnes, followed by Peru, with 1 800 tonnes during the first six months in 2012 against 3 700 tonnes in the same period in 2011. The volume imported by the UK has remained about the same since 2010 at around 2 000 tonnes, while scallop imports into Spain from January to June 2012 went down from 3 680 tonnes to 2 535 tonnes compared with the same period last year.


Clam producers in Galicia are hoping that the Christmas season will bring an increase in prices, which will help to overcome the poor results obtained from June to September. Oyster prices remain strong because of short supplies as mortalities of juveniles were reported again in the summer. Meanwhile, Chilean mussel farmers are still worried about the lack of seed that could affect 70% of the production in 2013.

Source: FAO Globefish

Pangasius: December 2012 Market Report

Pangasius increases in popularity in the USA but sales decline in Europe

Sources from the industry in Viet Nam say that production will be lower in 2012. In future, an annual production of 1.2 million tonnes may be targeted, with a stronger emphasis on quality. Over the January to June period of 2012, exports from the Vietnamese pangasius sector reached a total value of USD 853.6 million. The EU was the largest importer of Vietnamese fish and accounted for 27.7% of total revenue while the US market took 22%.

Despite good demand for the product in the US, imports into the EU are waning. Overall, during the first half of 2012, about 172 000 tonnes of pangasius fillet were imported into 33 countries worldwide. The US is the single largest importer followed by Russia, Brazil and Singapore. In traditional markets, supply losses from major exporters are being compensated for by other producers.


EU imports of pangasius fillet during the first half of 2012 were 22 948 tonnes lower at 72 322 tonnes compared with the same period in 2011, indicating declining demand. The value of the imports went down by 20%, dropping to USD 199 million. However, average import prices were higher by 4.9% to USD 2.7/kg from 2011. In the UK, sales of alternative and more sustainable species of fish such as pangasius have risen sharply over the course of 2012 in some of the major supermarkets.


Pangasius continues to climb further as one of the most popular seafoods among American consumers. In a recently published report, a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) survey indicated that pangasius was the sixth most favourite seafood in the US in 2011. With continuing economic problems to contend with, consumers are looking for value for money and pangasius compares favourably with tilapia in this regard.

During the first half of 2012 50 290 tonnes of frozen catfish were imported, 34% higher than the same period in 2011. Close to 95% of these imports were from Viet Nam. For domestic catfish producers, however, the situation is still difficult as catfish farmers continue to struggle with rising feed prices and drought conditions.

Republic of Korea

Sales of frozen fish are increasing at large discount stores as consumers increasingly look for cheaper products and those with longer shelf life. From January to August 2012, Korea imported 363 700 tonnes of frozen fish and 87 800 tonnes of frozen fillet, of which close to 40 000 tonnes was frozen pangasius fillet supplied by Viet Nam.


Industry association (VASEP) sources expect the negative trend in EU imports of pangasius to continue in the coming months, as there is no sign of economic recovery in most European countries, although the popularity of newly-available ASC-certified pangasius is expected to increase. In the US, NMFS statistics show strong and increasing demand for pangasius on the whole, but buyers are likely to resist the higher price of the certified product as economic difficulties continue.

Source: FAO Globefish

Cephalopods: December 2012 Market Report

Supplies of octopus improved significantly in August 2012, and as a result prices dropped by as much as 30% in some markets. With the increase of octopus quotas, the market is set for further price reductions. Squid prices also fell with increased landings in Japan and Argentina.




Octopus landings in Mauritania were excellent during the summer, and this led to a much improved supply situation. In Morocco, the quota for octopus was increased for the summer season, and this has also contributed to improved supplies and decreasing prices.

The improved supply situation naturally affects price developments, and prices for frozen Mauritanian octopus dropped by as much as 30% in August.

On the other side of the globe, quotas were reduced, however. Mexico announced in July that the quota for the fall season would be 10 000 tonnes, compared with 12 000 tonnes in 2011.

Japanese imports showed signs of taking advantage of this situation already in the second quarter, when imports from Mauritania increased from 6 300 tonnes during the first half of 2011 to 8 500 tonnes during the same period in 2012.

Spanish importers do not appear to have reacted in the same way, as imports into Spain during the first half of the year were actually down by over 15%, to 14 800 tonnes.

Italy also saw a decline in imports of octopus during the first half of 2012. Total octopus imports fell by 12.3%, and Spain and Mauritania were the main losers, while imports from Senegal increased.


Japanese landings of flying squid have been strong lately, resulting in price reductions on the Japanese market of up to 20% in August. Supplies to the Tokyo Tsukiji Market in July were up by about 20% on a daily basis, and prices dropped correspondingly. This made squid quite attractive to consumers, and demand has risen.

While total imports of squid into Japan are up, there is an important shift in what products the Japanese consumer is buying. Fresh and frozen squid, cuttlefish and octopus are declining, while imports of prepared products have increased significantly. The main supplier to Japan is still China, accounting for about half of Japanese squid imports during the first half of 2012.

Spain is also increasing imports in 2012. During the first half of the year, Spanish squid imports increased by 5.2% compared with the same period in 2011. On the Italian market, imports were dramatically down during the first half of the year. The import volume went down by 26%, affecting all the suppliers.

The USA is again a big importer of squid and during the first half of 2012 there was a significant increase in imports, up by 26.2% compared with the same period in 2011. China increased its shipments to the USA by 2 500 tonnes during the period.


The main supplier of cuttlefish, Viet Nam, is suffering losses because of the lack of buyer interest in China at the moment. Prices have dropped dramatically as a result, from VND 150 000 per kg to just VND 60 000 per kg.

In Europe, the cuttlefish market is fairly dull, and main markets such as Italy and Spain are both importing less this year, in spite of improved supplies and declining prices.


In general, it is expected that demand on Asian markets will grow in the longer term, and this may divert some supplies from European markets. It is also worthwhile to note that, increasingly, sales of value added products will grow in Asia, and probably also in other regions.

There seems to be a slightly better supply situation for octopus, so some easing off of prices can probably be expected. 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.

Source: FAO Globefish

Groundfish: December 2012 Market Report

Barents Sea cod season expected to be the best in more than 50 years as quota increases lead to fears of downward pressure on prices.

Supplies & Prices

Norway reported that this year’s cod fishing season has been the best since 1947 and authorities have decided to raise the cod quota for 2013 by 25%. As a result of the increase in supplies, fishermen and exporters alike are now fearing that cod prices will decline further, especially next year. Total Norwegian groundfish exports (including fresh, frozen, salted, klipfish and stockfish) declined by 20% to NOK 888 million during September. The average unit export price for cod products went down by 5%.

Meanwhile, in New England, groundfish quotas may be cut severely because of the poor condition of the stocks, according to reports. Although no final decision has been made, observers are estimating that the cuts in quotas may amount to 70% or more for the cod in the Gulf of Maine and a similar amount for cod on the Georges Bank. Haddock quotas are also expected to be dramatically reduced, as well as flounder quotas.

Market observers are baffled by price developments on the European pollock market. US exporters are offering single-frozen MSC-certified pollock pin-bone-out at USD 3 200 – 3 500 per tonne. European buyers are hesitant to buy at these higher prices and now appear to be looking to China for supplies instead, where exporters are offering twice-frozen MSC-certified blocks at USD 3 000 or less.

US production is now focusing on surimi and deepskin blocks rather than pin-bone-out blocks. At the end of July, US production of surimi blocks was up 31% compared with last year, production of deepskin blocks was up 59%, while production of pin-bone-out blocks was down by 23%.


On the German market, imports of frozen Alaska pollock fillets have been declining over the past five years. During the first half of 2008, Germany imported 92 100 tonnes of frozen pollock fillets, while in the first half of 2012, the country imported only 72 900 tonnes (-21%).

On the French market, there was a decline in imports of frozen Alaska pollock fillets as well, but on this market, imports have been quite variable. The first half of 2011 showed signs of improvement, with 25 900 tonnes being imported. In 2012, imports fell back to 22 900 tonnes (-11.6%).

Demand for Norwegian groundfish has also weakened lately, with China drastically reducing imports of round frozen cod and economic difficulties continuing elsewhere. It seems that it is only on the UK market that frozen cod is selling more or less as in recent years. First half imports actually increased slightly, from 42 100 tonnes in 2011 to 43 400 tonnes in 2012.

In the USA, however, it would appear that demand for groundfish is picking up gradually, judging from import figures. During the first half of 2012, US imports of cod-like groundfish increased slightly, from 72 100 tonnes in 2011 to 74 800 tonnes in 2012

In Japan, imports of surimi during the first half of the year increased by 12% to 116 000 tonnes. The value of imports stood at JPY 32.2 billion, an increase of 22%. Imports from the USA amounted to 40 700 tonnes, of which 38 700 tonnes was pollock surimi, a 31% increase from the same period last year. China suffered a 33% decrease in its surimi shipments to Japan during the first half of 2012, mainly as a result of poor landings of ribbonfish.


While US prices for groundfish blocks have developed in different directions lately, it must now be expected that prices of cod blocks, as well as hake blocks will continue to decline. The price of pollock blocks will also decline because of improved supplies. However, there may be continued high prices for single-frozen MSC certified pollock blocks for some time yet.

Cod fillet prices on the European market will probably decline as more product becomes available to the market, especially in the first three months of 2013. Other groundfish products may suffer the same setback pricewise, as the general increase in supplies takes hold. However, there will always be niche products that may do well in the market.

With the sharp increases in cod quotas expected for the coming year, and a further fall in prices expected, many now fear that the groundfish market will have to change through innovation of some sort. New markets must also be sought, and once again Asia looks to be the most promising region.

Source: FAO Globefish


In 2012 the global production forecast for aquacultured shrimp is unlikely to meet the targets set in many countries. Oversupply of vannamei has pushed prices lower while market demand remained weak from January to October.

Supplies & Prices

As the end of the farming season approaches, harvests in most of the producing countries are likely to be below the targets set for 2012. In Viet Nam large farming areas have suffered from severe crop losses throughout the season, while the large production and volume of vannamei shrimp on offer from India has had a negative impact on shrimp prices. Production slowed down in Thailand and Indonesia by the third quarter and Indian farmers cut back vannamei production in September. China’s overall exports of shrimp declined by 16% during the first half of the year, and the Danish shrimp industry has seen its exports fall by almost 17%. Falling market prices have also affected Latin American production but to a lesser extent.


Throughout the year, weak international shrimp prices have not stimulated consumer demand in the two large markets of the USA and the European Union. In Japan, however, the trend has been slightly more positive.


In Japan, cumulative imports of all types of shrimp during the first eight months were nearly 172 000 tonnes. Imports of processed shrimp increased, taking a 28% share of total shrimp imports. Demand for salad shrimp and cooked shrimp has risen, although there are clear indications of waning consumer demand for raw shell-on shrimp in the Japanese market.  For frozen shrimp, the Tokyo Metropolitan City office reported a 17% (7 000 tonnes) overall increase in sales at the Tsukiji market during the January-August period compared with the same period last year. Improved supplies and affordable prices have also led to improved demand for Argentinean seabob shrimp (head-on) and encouraged supermarkets to run promotional campaigns for vannamei shrimp, favouring Thai and Malaysian vannamei.


USA imports increased during the first half of the year because of speculative demand by importers, which have proved problematic for the rest of the year.  Despite some swing in supply and spot improvements in demand, the market has been characterized by quiet demand and abundant supply.

The large production of vannamei in India has had a significant influence on the whole complex of the US shrimp market. Supplies coming from the other Asian sources (Indonesia, Viet Nam and Thailand) are feeling these effects and Thai exporters in particular are losing their market share.

Taken overall, between late March and early October, the wholesale price of a number of shrimp products clearly showed a negative trend, with purchases also suffering as a result of the weakening of the US dollar.  Nevertheless, given the worsening economic situation in the Eurozone and the reported lower buying interest in raw frozen shrimp from Japan, the US remains the important market focus for many producing countries.


Waning consumer interest has badly affected EU shrimp markets. Consumers have cut back spending as confidence was reported to be at a 40-month low in September this year, while sales declined in both the retail and catering sectors over the summer. The weakness of the euro against the US dollar also contributed to the depressed demand. During the first half of 2012 shrimp imports posted negative growth of almost 11% on a year on year basis. In Spain, the largest shrimp market in Europe, shrimp imports dropped by one fifth. This scenario has prompted European buyers to look for cheaper sources, such as black tiger shrimp from Bangladesh. Some buyers have also opted for cheaper vannamei, mainly from India, which has in turn put pressure on the black tiger price.


The decrease in China’s economic growth this year, forecast to be around 7.7%, the lowest since 1999, has slowed shrimp imports. Canada remained the largest supplier with its exports up by more than 41%, followed by Thailand (+ 44%).


The traditional year-end demand is not apparent this year in Western markets, and is particularly absent from the EU market. In the US there more than enough inventory to cover the Christmas/New Year sales even with improved demand. In Japan, shrimp prices are lower than last year, which could support increased consumption during the coming months. Demand for Southeast Asian vannamei and black tiger shrimp should be strong in the Japanese market from now until March or April next year. For year-end sales, the other markets in Asia will also be important for local and regional suppliers. Wider market prices can be expected to hold and possibly improve by late December.

Source: FAO Globefish


Demand for tuna in the EU and USA continues to weaken, although non-canned tuna demand in the USA has been better this year. Raw tuna consumption in Japan has been sliding over the years, according to government reports.

Supplies & prices

Catch rates by tuna purse seiners picked up in the Western and Central Pacific during October 2012, resulting in improved supply of raw material and lower pricing. Prices for main sized skipjack declined to USD 2 050/tonne CFR Bangkok for November delivery.

Continuing the trend from October, catch volumes in the Eastern Tropical Pacific have remained very positive (comparable with previous years’ levels) providing continuity of raw material supply to Ecuadorean canneries. However, the ex-vessel skipjack price in Ecuador remained constant at USD 2 400/tonne.

Fleets in the Indian Ocean have reported disappointing fishing after a good start at the beginning of October. The initial positive fishing results softened skipjack prices to EUR 1 760 and yellowfin to EUR 2 450/tone, both FOB Seychelles.

Fishing by purse seiners operating in the Atlantic Ocean has been improving, contributing to the lowering of the price of skipjack to EUR 1 675/tonne ex vessel Abidjan. The price of yellowfin > 10 kg has also declined slightly to EUR 2 525/tonne ex vessel Abidjan.

Sellers are trying to maintain prices at EUR 2 800/tonne for yellowfin > 10 kg and EUR 1 800/tonne for main sized skipjack, both CFR Spain.



With the beginning of autumn, the sashimi market in Japan has started to improve. There have been increased sales within and outside the Tsukiji auction market since mid October.

Direct sales of the cheaper imported tuna have increased outside of the auction market; supermarkets and fish shops are the main buyers. The lower priced Mexican farmed bluefin (JPY 2 950/kg) was in good demand in this market segment.

Landings of fresh skipjack in Japan fell by 20% during the January-June 2012 period, compared with the same period in 2011.  As a result of poor landings the price was kept high at JPY 550-600/kg on the Tsukiji market, over JPY 100 more than last year.

Consumption of tuna (bluefin) and skipjack went down by 12% and 11% from June 2011 to June 2012. Another report said that the number of sushi restaurants in Japan, including traditional sushi bars, have declined by 10% between 2006 and 2011. However, despite the general declining trend in tuna consumption, Japanese imports of fresh and frozen tuna were higher during the first half of the year compared with 2011.


There seems to be some recovery in the US fresh tuna market, which is reflected in January-June imports of non-canned tuna and tuna products. Although supplies were dominated by cheaper yellowfin tuna, imports of the higher value bigeye and bluefin tuna also increased compared with the same period last year.

Frozen tuna loin/fillet and steak imports were also 4% higher, despite a significant rise in the average import price (+50%). Noticeably, exports from lead supplier Indonesia were 33% lower than last year, but supplies improved from the Philippines and other sources in the Pacific including Japan (354 tonnes in 2012 against 57 tonnes in the same period of 2011).

Canned Tuna

The canned tuna industry is feeling the pressure from a number of different sources. Increasing production costs for tuna packers, declining consumer demand in the major markets, skyrocketing raw material prices, increasing demands from environmental groups and continuing adverse publicity about tuna are among the challenges that have affected the global canned tuna market.


Sluggish demand for canned tuna continues in the US market. Under the current economic conditions consumers are reluctant to accept higher canned tuna prices, while supermarkets are unable to promote the product as a low-priced item as they could in the past.

In addition to increasing prices, tuna companies have been targeted by environmental groups on mercury content of tuna and sustainability related issues, which have also contributed to declining tuna consumption.

For the first half of this year imports fell by more than 23% in volume against the same period of 2011. In value, however, the imports were only slightly lower (-1.6%) because of higher tuna prices.

The major tuna suppliers have introduced new products to revive demand. Starkist has recently launched its single serve tuna pouch meals and the Chicken of the Sea “no drain” canned tuna introduced in spring has become a hit in the US market.


In addition to the Eurozone crisis and high price factors, unfavourable weather has affected the EU canned tuna markets. As consumers cut spending, high end canned tuna products have suffered. This is reflected in the declining imports of high value canned tuna from Spain into Italy, which declined by 11.6% during the first half of 2012 against the same period of 2011, while imports increased from Seychelles (+14.8%) and Cote d’Ivoire (+109%).

Like Italy, France also imported more from Seychelles (+30.4%) and Cote d’Ivoire (+77%), while imports from Spain and Ecuador declined sharply by 46.7% and 21.6% respectively, resulting in the Seychelles emerging as the top supplier in the market. As a result, overall imports into France went down by more than 11% in quantity in the period from January to June 2012.

Canned tuna imports into the sensitive German market posted negative growth (-11.7%) and, after posting strong growth last year, imports into the UK dropped by 11.4% from January to June compared with the same period last year.

Weakening demand and high prices have also affected pre-cooked tuna loin imports into Spain and Italy, the two main markets. Spain’s imports from Thailand were 80% down during the first semester of the year.


High canned tuna prices coupled with sluggish demand in the major markets have badly affected overall canned tuna exports from Thailand. For the first semester of 2012, exports dropped significantly by almost 25% in quantity; in value, however, it was more or less on par with the same period last year. The US remains the largest market, though shipment to this market declined by over 30%.

During the first semester of 2012, canned tuna imports into Japan increased significantly by 13% in quantity and 22.1% in value against the previous year, totalling over 24 000 tonnes worth JPY 11.9 billion (USD 150 million). Three ASEAN countries, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, continued to dominate the market taking over 97% of total supply.


Skipjack raw material supplies are expected to improve in the last quarter of the year after the 3-month ban on FADs fishing imposed by the Western and Central Pacific Commission (WPCFC) ended on 1 October. Nevertheless this will not bring down the price as demand for raw material also increases towards the end of the year. Emerging markets in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East continue to be the key growth areas to compensate for declining consumer demand in the US and EU markets.

 Source: FAO Globefish

Shrimp Market Report, Asia: October 2012

After remaining firm for nearly three years, the international market for shrimp has taken a clear downward turn, with export prices crashing in June as the impact of a large production of Indian vannamei shrimp began to be felt. Activity in the Japanese market remains low but export prices from most of the producing countries seemed to have bottomed out and regained some stability by the end of July.


Supplies and prices

Trends in raw material supplies have been mixed because of the price decline in international markets as well as disease problems in some of the aquaculture regions. While supplies increased from Thailand and India, the trend was reversed in Viet Nam and Indonesia.

Antibiotic residue problems in Vietnamese and Indian shrimp affected supplies to the Japanese market. Disease problems have also affected supplies of Indonesian vannamei shrimp and had an impact on shrimp production in Malaysia, with production of vannamei shrimp in Malaysia expected to be around 65 000 tonnes down from the 75 000 tonnes harvested in 2011.

In Japan, declining demand for black tiger shrimp pushed export prices down to USD 9.50/kg for 16/20 counts headless product, which is possibly the lowest on record since 2010.


Ex-farm prices of vannamei in Thailand were 20% lower in May than the same month last year as a result of an influx of supplies, but recovered by 2-3% in July as a result of government and industry intervention. Overall, prices of Thai vannamei shrimp have dropped from USD 5.6/kg in January to around USD 4.00/kg in May.

Thai frozen shrimp exports in the first five months of 2012 shrank by 2.2% to USD 552 million largely as a result of the drop in exports to EU markets, according to the Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol. Exports to the EU, valued at USD 79 million, declined by 16%. The EU market is Thailand’s third biggest market after the USA and Japan.

In early May, the Thai government approved a budget of THB 2 billion (USD 66.6 million) to intervene in the market to prevent the sharp drop in prices of farmed shrimp. About THB 93.85 million (USD 3.1 million) will be used to subsidise interest rates for seafood processors to purchase 30 000 tonnes of vannamei from farmers at THB 135 (USD 4.4) a kg for size 60 pieces/kg.




In Japan this year, initial demand for shrimp from intermediary users was weak and only picked up later because of slow consumer demand from May till mid-July. Despite the strong yen, importers continue to put pressure on prices.

Imports of shrimp and shrimp products were higher than last year’s but in favour of coldwater shrimp from Argentina, whose appeal to consumers lies primarily in its attractive price. Overall, the average shrimp consumption level in Japan increased by 5%.


China imported lower amounts of frozen shrimp during the first quarter of 2012, down by 13.1% year on year. Among the main suppliers, only Canada managed to increase its shipments by more than 26%, while imports from Malaysia and Ecuador were down by 20% and 33.3% respectively. Imports from Thailand were more or less stagnant. Frozen shrimp imports from Ecuador into China increased significantly to 5 574 tonnes last year from only 324 tonnes in 2009.

Viet Nam

Meanwhile Viet Nam has been importing shrimp from Thailand for re-processing this year. According to the Thai Eastern Shrimp Association, during the January-April period, Viet Nam imported 2 860 tonnes of shrimp from Thailand, three times that of the previous year, driven by cheaper shrimp prices. Viet Nam has increasingly imported shrimp raw material from other countries, including from India, as domestic shrimp farming has been suffering from widespread disease.



While supplies from India could generate good demand for shrimp, especially large sizes (21/26 and 26/30), the most experienced traders predict a decline in prices as August approaches and more shrimp of these sizes is expected to be available in the market.

Reduced demand in Japan means that the US market is the preferred target of producers, but the news on the increased employment rate in June is good news for seafood promoters and the shrimp market is expected to benefit.

Meanwhile, the softening economic growth in China is predicted to affect demand for shrimp, thus imports are expected to slow down this year.

Source: FAO Globefish

Shrimp Market Report, EU: October 2012

After three years of stability, the international market for shrimp crashed in June of this year. In the EU, the market situation has worsened in recent months in the midst of the Eurozone crisis, driving down prices. Imports are still declining as the general lack of demand is reflected by limited orders.

Market update

In June/July, black tiger prices crashed, resulting in huge losses among packers in Asia. Black tiger shrimp from Bangladesh, for example, was priced at USD 10.20/kg in July for 16/20, down from USD12.20-13.30/kg quoted in the previous month. Reportedly some buyers have even asked for a renegotiation of their consignments and the situation has resulted in large amounts of unsold stock.

Shrimp imports into Spain, the largest shrimp importer in Europe and currently hardest hit by the financial crisis, dropped sharply by more than 28% in the first quarter, totalling 25 200 tonnes. Supplies from China and Argentina went down sharply by 31.4% and 37.1% respectively. Ecuador overtook China as the number one supplier this year, with imports marginally increased by only 1.8%.

Similarly, shrimp imports into Italy also declined by more than 24%, with shipments from Ecuador and Argentina, the two main suppliers to the market, lower by 22.4% and 14.3% respectively.

Thailand overtook Viet Nam as the largest supplier of shrimp into Germany with supply from the former increased by 8% while Viet Nam shipped 27.3% less shrimp this year.

Supported by good demand for the 2012 London Olympics, shrimp imports into the UK were only marginally down by 2.2% to 18 200 tonnes for the first quarter of the year. Thailand remained the largest supplier to the market, exporting the same amount as last year, while India and Bangladesh managed to send more shrimp, up by 22.2% and 35.7% respectively.

India also performed better in France supplying 6.5% more shrimp to the market. Imports from Ecuador, the largest supplier, were down slightly by 3.3% during the reporting period.

The sluggish demand in the EU has badly affected the Danish shrimp industry. Danish shrimp exports during the first quarter shrank by 17.1% to 20 300 tonnes, as its export to major markets posted negative growth. Shipments to China, the largest market in Asia, also went down sharply by 35.3%. During the January to May period, the Danish processing industry imported 23 500 tonnes of shrimp raw material, 2.1% less than the same period in 2011.



Under the current economic scenario, the EU shrimp market is not expected to recover in the short term. Demand may improve slightly through the autumn as European buyers return from holiday and place new orders.

Source: FAO Globefish

Tuna Market Report: October 2012

During the first half of 2012, supplies of sashimi grade tuna increased following good catches in the Indian Ocean, resulting in weaker auction prices in Japan. Yellowfin and albacore prices also fell in January as demand in southern Europe declined. Skipjack prices, however, have reached record highs.

Supplies and prices

In the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, purse seine tuna catches continued to be low partly because of the current FAD ban and the seasonal fishing ban in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP).

As of July, skipjack catches in the ETP were still nearly 30 000 tonnes below last year’s. Reportedly a fairly large number of fishing vessels in the ETP will opt for the November FAD ban rather than July, suggesting the impact on skipjack will likely be more acute during that period.

Spanish and French purse seiners also reported poor catches in the Indian Ocean, pushing up prices. In September, the price of skipjack was EUR 1 730 per tonne/ex-vessel, Mahe, and EUR 2 450 for yellowfin. Similarly, poor catch results in the Atlantic pushed prices up to similar levels in West Africa.

In the same month, frozen cooked skipjack loins sold for USD 6 600/tonne DDP Spain and yellowfin loins were USD 8 500/tonne DDP Italy. European tuna processors have not been able to pass on the price increase to end users and consumption is decreasing for the first time in many years.

Total tuna landings increased in Japan from domestic and foreign waters during the first quarter of this year. Compared with last year, landings increased for all the tuna species except for fresh yellowfin and fresh/frozen skipjack. Lower supplies of yellowfin tuna are compensated for by increased landings of bigeye tuna from the Indian Ocean.



During the May-June period, consumer demand for raw tuna remained subdued in Japan and prices were under pressure. However, the half-yearly bonus week generated short term good demand in the fresh tuna market at the end of June.

Meanwhile, restaurants and supermarkets in Japan have introduced smaller sized sashimi tuna block (saku) in individual packs and servings to accommodate lower household budgets; each tuna serving has become smaller or thinner. As a result of increased supplies of bigeye tuna from the Indian Ocean, more fish are now available in the market compared with last year and prices have weakened in the auction market.

In the frozen sashimi tuna market, holiday demand increased for farmed bluefin tuna from Mexico, which is in competition with Australian origin southern bluefin. The popular Kaiten-sushi restaurants are the main outlets for bluefin tuna consumption.

Japanese imports of air-flown tuna took another dip during the first quarter of 2012 with lower supplies of both bluefin and yellowfin, which mirrored waning consumer demand for fresh tuna in the market.

Imports of frozen red-meat quality (YF/BE) tuna loin increased during the first quarter of the year in response to steady demand from retail and restaurant trade. Imports increased from the Republic of Korea and Fiji but declined from Southeast Asia because of lower catches. Supplies of frozen bluefin loins, however, declined as a result of the catch restrictions.


Sashimi tuna, particularly bigeye tuna, will be more affordable to many Japanese consumers this summer as supply improves. Raw material prices for the canned tuna market, however, are expected by some packers to continue climbing until just before October when the FAD ban is lifted in the Western Pacific.

Source: FAO Globefish

Pangasius Market Report: October 2012

Supplies are expanding from sources other than the world’s largest producer, Viet Nam, which is struggling with supply shortage, disease problems, high production costs and slowing down of traditional markets. In the USA, Viet Nam’s largest single market, demand for pangasius is greater than ever.

Supplies and prices

As pangasius farmers in Viet Nam struggle to keep afloat, sources of production are diversifying, with the Philippines and Indonesia now actively promoting production and consumption of pangasius in their domestic markets.

Viet Nam

In the first quarter of 2012, exports of pangasius were valued at USD 425 million. The industry association says that tra fish exports could reach USD 2 billion this year if the industry is afforded more equitable financial and economic conditions and annual bank interest rates fall below 15%.

The USA is the largest single market for pangasius from Viet Nam, taking a 73% share of its exports with a value of USD 82 million. Export to this market was higher by 49% compared with same period in 2011.

Exports to the EU totalled USD 113 million with Spain being the leading market followed by Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the UK.

Meanwhile, farm gate prices of tra catfish have plunged by 28% to about VND 20 000 (USD 0.95) a kilogram from about VND 28 000 (USD 1.35) a kilogram in April.




Frozen pangasius fillet is now listed under the new HS code 03046200 (previously 03042903). In the first quarter, imports of frozen pangasius fillet into the EU fell significantly by 27% in volume and 22% in value from the same period in 2011. The largest supplier to this market is Viet Nam, although supplies fell by 33% from the same period last year.


Pangasius imports into the USA strengthened in the first quarter of 2012 by 43% from the same period last year. Viet Nam is the leading source with a 41% rise in supply. The USA remains as the largest single market for Vietnamese pangasius.


Imports of pangasius into Southeast Asia have generally slowed down. In the first three months of 2012, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia imported lower quantities of pangasius while imports into Malaysia were up by 24% from the same period in 2011.  In 2011, India imported 716 tonnes of pangasius fillet from Viet Nam, up from 157 tonnes in 2010. Imports were mostly directed to the catering trade where this species is popular.


Intensive promotion of pangasius in the domestic market continues to take place. Recently the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Davao region called on stakeholders to actively participate in the promotion of pangasius as a family staple food. Pangasius is currently sold at PHP 185 per kg (USD 4.43).


Medical experts have raised an alarm over the growing numbers of Asian fish imports to Australia that contain banned antibiotics. Australia imports seafood mainly from China, Thailand and Viet Nam, and these imports have been growing over the years.



Considering the problems faced by the pangasius industry in Viet Nam, the target export of USD 2 billion might be difficult to achieve.  Meanwhile, leading tra catfish exporters agreed to impose a minimum price of USD 2-2.2 per pound on shipments to the USA for the remaining months of the year in a move to ensure fair competition for Vietnamese tra catfish. Existing markets in most of Asia are likely to be stable, supported by the demand from domestic markets.

Source: FAO Globefish