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Seafood Supply-Demand Meeting Indicates Decline in Mackerel

September 9, 2009

The Second Frozen Marine Products Supply-Demand Information Meeting for 2009 was held to discuss trends of supply & demand of frozen seafood products. The discussion results are as follows:

[Salmon/Trout] Domestic productivity is believed to be unfavorable, in comparison to recent years, displaying a declining trend after a long interval. However, the water temperature of Eastern Hokkaido is low, providing a suitable condition for fish to travel back. To what degree the condition of water temperatures will positively affect fish behavior is a focus of attention.

In regards to imports, sockeye salmon arrivals are expected. Alaska is enjoying more than its usual catch; in contrast, there is a tremendous fall seen in Russia. Trout is expected to exhibit a downward trend, but not to the point of dramatic declines; “Kaimake” (defeat at the auction) caused by a purchasing capacity gap, rather than the aftermath of diseased trout, is primarily responsible for this expectation.

Diseases are creating significant damage to Atlantic salmon. Therefore, as a whole, its amount will display a downward move, compared to the previous year.

Atlantic salmon usually comes from Norway to markets; however, an import volume from Norway will decline due to the fact that the country is exporting more to the US. Declining fish arrivals are causing prices to inch up; and compared to last year, market prices will move bullishly.

Retailers are increasing sales by lowering the unit price of fillet with smaller weight, contrasted with a year ago. Sockeye and coho salmon varieties are performing well. Especially, there is increasing consumer liking of imported coho salmon, which tends to be fatty and cheaper than salted sockeye salmon as a main salt-preserved fish.

[Shrimp] Imported black tiger shrimp and whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei), which were supposedly shipped out during April and June, will increase somewhat this term because products are finally coming together. Compared to ten years ago, the percentage whiteleg shrimp accounts for has increased 70 to 80 percent; in recent years, production amounts of whiteleg shrimp are closing in on black tiger.

In markets, overall sales remain unfavorable. In terms of wholesale prices, large sizes will shift in a bullish manner; and small sizes will move somewhat weakly. As a whole, prices are predicted to go flat to slightly upward.

Retailers are maintaining sales by individually selling defrosted shrimp at a lower price, rather than packaged frozen shrimp.

[Squid] Domestic production is overall going well; particularly, fresh squid caught near the shore from May to July recorded a more than ten-fold harvest amount, in comparison with the last year’s number. In addition, the harvesting of neon flying squid and frozen squid marked 103 to 108 percent over last year; and as a whole, there will be more squid production than the previous year. Furthermore, fishing grounds of on-boat frozen squid are found in the North up from Niigata; and Hachinohe and Hakodate, not Ogi, are landing more squid. Due to an abundant catch volume, fresh squid prices are moving bearishly, which will bring frozen squid prices downward together.

In markets, squid prices are moving back to a last year’s level and they are believed to display a bearish trend, compared to a year earlier.

At retailers, quantities and sizes were both small, and prices were high during spring; however, these conditions have been stable in the past three months.

[Mackerel] It is projected that domestic mackerel production will considerably trend downward, compared to last year, because of the non-cooperating weather as well as ships resting at docks. In Hechinohe, fish sizes, 400 to 600g, mainly of blue mackerel, tend to be large and prices are remaining high at \70 to 90; however, sales are nicely going. An inventory amount is fairly plenty; but, prices are not going down.

From this point on, mackerel fishing will reach its peak time, which will help form a price structure. Nevertheless, the current wholesale prices are high enough, and therefore it is predicted that prices will not go up any more.

In markets, a frozen kind, mainly from Norway, weighing over 600g is seen; however, a drastic increase in fishing quota to 170,000 tons will create a bearish trend, between \400 to \450.

At retailers, a wild kind is smaller in size than last year and its low catch is triggering a higher price. Norwegian frozen mackerel prices have gone down. An autumn mackerel-fishing season begins during September and October, bringing back mackerel three times as big. Additionally, demand for mackerel as a canning material will continue to be steady.

[Others] Saury is favored by consumers for its larger than usual size, 180 to 200g, and reasonable prices. This year, an autumn season began early and therefore the fish has been circulated earlier than normal. If large size saury keeps coming in, its prices will head downward.

As far as octopus goes, as a result of a defeated purchasing competition during summer, it is uncertain if there will be enough to go around for the rest of the year. An unstable trend will continue from spring to summer. A domestic kind is relatively reasonable. There is a hope to keep selling it at a low price for a long time.

The original article was published on September 9, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Food Industry Gives “Low Prices” Top Priority

September 4, 2009

It was revealed in a special food industry business trend study for the first half of 2009 from the Japan Finance Corporation, that the food industry (manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and restaurant) exhibited an increasing tendency to give a product’s “low price” and “safety” a top priority. Businesses in the industry reacted to the strong consumer consciousness of frugality and concern over food safety assurance.

43.4 % of companies, 38.3 % in the previous study for the last half of 2008, provided “low prices” as an answer to a question “what needs to be achieved in food products?” 47.9 % also expressed the importance of “low prices” for the future business.

As for food safety assurance, 43.3 % agreed to its necessity, as opposed to 34 % in the previous survey. The growing number of companies, 46.9 %, expressed the significance of food safety for future business.

In contrast, companies’ interests in “domestic products,” “local products,” and “taste,” which were consistently high previously, fell to 20 %; their interests in those categories for future business also trended downward.

Only 13.6 % of companies agreed that “health” was a necessity for food products; however, 25.2 % of them, a sharp rise from previous surveys, exhibited a future interest in it. It was inferred that companies understood that they could not ignore consumers’ growing health consciousness.

One of the results indicated that a ratio of companies experiencing cost increases tremendously contracted. In addition to efforts on their part, a break from skyrocketing raw material costs seemed to be another factor. Tremendous retail value declines were a trend in all the sectors of the food industry; and more than 90 percent of them said they would either “cut further down on prices” or “not change prices, at all.”

The original article was published on September 4, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Tuna Supply-Demand Council Indicates Supply and Price Declines

September 2, 2009

The Fisheries Agency held the second tuna supply-demand council forecast meeting. The summary of the meeting was “the overall tuna production, import, and supply amounts will exhibit slight declines; also wholesale prices are predicted to move bearishly.”

In terms of the forecast of a production amount, “There were drastic decreases in the Indian and Atlantic Ocean; and the amount of domestic frozen tuna from the period of April to June fell short of the projected numbers. It is forecasted that domestic supply will rise. We are apprehensive about data that indicates a very high inventory amount. Everything but bigeye and yellowfin tunas shows a great amount; as seen in recent years, an irregular situation has been taking place.”

As for an import amount, they said that “frozen tuna will reduce from October through February; on the other hand, we will see more fresh tuna. It is projected that fresh tuna will increase not only from July to September, but from now on, because fewer traders are purchasing frozen Mediterranean (Turkish) tuna. “

With regard to wholesale prices, it was indicated that “despite a reduced quantity of yellowfin tuna, its price is on the decline; we are expecting this trend to continue. 1,370 of bigeye tuna went on to the market in April and May; during June and July, there were only 1,250. Its price marked \1,000 or higher last year, today it is less than \900. Its amount is declining, but oddly enough, the price is going down, as well. This is not a problem of a supply amount, but of quality.”

About an aspect of consumption, it was said that “consumer frugality is discouraging tuna consumption. The question is how cheaper tuna can be accepted by consumers.”

The original article was published on September 2, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

July Seafood Import Stats: Plunges in Unit Prices Never Seem to Stop

August 31, 2009

According to trade statistics released by the Ministry of Finance, the seafood import result for the month of July amounted to 232,366 tons, a five percent drop from the same month a year ago. Though there were increases in yellowfin tuna, bonito, herring, and octopus, the imported quantities of bigeye tuna, squid, fish meat, Japanese horse mackerel, mackerel, and cod roe exhibited declines.

A total import value came to \115.8 billion, or down 16 percentage points, indicating a larger decline ratio to that of a total import quantity. Plummets in the following fish varieties’ unit prices still remained significant: yellowfin tuna, bonito, crab, octopus, and pollack surimi. The average unit price ended in \499, or an 11 percent fall.

Yellowfin Tuna Displays 40% Increase in Quantity, However Unit Price Declines 40%

Yellowfin tuna registered 4,900 tons, indicating a 42 percent increase year over year; however, its unit price contracted 43 percent to \349/kg. Likewise, bonito exhibited a significant rise to 5,600 tons; nevertheless, the unit price plunged 37 percentage points to \113.

Herring amounted to 8,600 tons, an increase of 68 percent, of which herring from the US accounted for 7,900 tons, or a whopping 91 percent hike. Its unit price, however, went down by nine percent to \144. Octopus rose 89 percent to 6,200 tons; its unit price, on the other hand, remained at \490, down 36 percent.

The main commodities of salmon and trout marked a seven percent drop to 19,000 tons; of which, sockeye salmon indicated a three percent decline to 6,500 tons (4,300 tons from the US and 2,200 tons from Russia) and its unit price was \515, a six percent drop. Chilean coho salmon decreased three percent to 3,100 tons; and its unit price rose 12 percent to \467. Chilean trout came to 2,800 tons with a 23 percent contraction; its unit price went up by 13 percentage points.

19,000 tons of shrimp was imported, remaining almost unchanged form the previous year; however, a drop in unit price led to a 13 percent decline in value.

Live eel, about which everyone was apprehensive, trended better than expected, showing a four percent increase to 2,400 tons (1,200 tons each from China and Taiwan). Its unit price contracted 16 percent to \1,422. BBQ eel came mainly from China, totaling 2,600 tons, 2.4 times more than the previous year when a significant drop was experienced. The unit price slumped 26 percent to \1,083.

Main ItemQuantity (t)Year-over-
(by ¥million)
Live Eel2,388103.7%3,39686.9%
Fresh/Chilled/ Frozen
Bluefin Tuna1,368233.0%3,531183.5%
Bigeye Tuna7.69694.0%5,13670.0%
Yellowfin Tuna4,869141.6%1,70181.4%
Southern Bluefin1,049426.4%1,770300.5%
Other Tunas1,41983.6%1,53775.8%
Cod Roe1,59546.2%1,18029.8%
Matsubara Stingfish1,678133.6%583118.5%
Cod/ Merluza110105.8%29126.1%
Fish Meat12,89660.7%3,82644.4%
Horse Mackerel1,38538.9%26433.0%
Pollack Surimi4,53690.7%1,22652.9%
Herring Roe1,037127.2%1,823119.3%
Cod Roe9241.4%13440.1%
Salmon Roe304176.7%434119.6%

The original article was published on August 31, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Hokkaido Fisheries Cooperative May Export 20,000t of Chum Salmon

August 28, 2009

Takashi Ogura, Executive Director of the Hokkaido Fisheries Cooperative Association spoke about chum salmon exports to China for this year at a fall-season business meeting:

Last year, slightly over 30,000 tons out of 115,000 tons of catch were exported. Since a low going rate of \150/kg in 2003, somewhere between 50,000 to 60,000 tons have been shipped out to China. Resultantly, utilizing Hokkaido chum salmon as a raw material, Chinese processors provide the US and Europe with various products, including high degree processed products.

The fact that only major companies are able to react to rising chum salmon prices was attributed to the monopolization of Chinese processors. Processors capable of dealing with 3,000 to 5,000 tons on a raw material basis can meet production costs. Only skin and bones are trashed. Exhaustively making the most of Hokkaido chum salmon, those processers manage to respond well to higher market value.

With projections of lower quantities of wandering salmon this year again, 100,000 tons will be secured for domestic consumption and the rest will be exported to balance out supply-demand. For China with solid market demand, we wish to ship a minimum amount. We are estimating that around 20,000 tons will be exported to China.

China usually asked for good quality fish caught in September; however, slumping consumption in the US and Europe after the financial downturn last year encouraged China to increasingly order lower price materials, such as white and pink salmon. This trend will continue this year, as well. China will exhibit careful reactions, considering the forecast of production curtailment in Hokkaido and conditions in Russia and Alaska.

The original article was published on August 28, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka

Hokkaido Fisheries Cooperative Reinforces Sales of Chum Salmon, Salmon Roe

August 28, 2009

With a nearing prime time of such Hokkaido merchandises as chum salmon, salmon roe, raw salted salmon roe, and scallop, the Hokkaido Fisheries Cooperative Association will strengthen marketing activities, e.g. TV commercials and newspaper ad-papers.

As for chum salmon, to boost demand for chum salmon fillet and raw salted roe in September, the Association is slated to disseminate 1.4 million copies of newspaper ad-papers to households mainly in the Kanto area, including the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions. Recipes of chum salmon and a recipe of soy sauce marinated roe will be introduced. In addition, during a chum salmon harvest season, a movie clip of the recipe of soy sauce marinated roe will be uploaded on the Association’s website.

A tie-up with Mizkan to promote skillet recipes of fresh chum salmon has been going on from August to October. Recipes using Mizkan’s flagship product “Aji-pon,” “Refreshingly broiled chum salmon and potherb mustard” and “Refreshingly cooked chum salmon and potato,” are suggested. For the months of January and February next year, another collaborative work with Ajinomoto is scheduled.

Furthermore, advertisement tools for mass merchandise outlets and retailers will be provided; and the reinforcement of salmon roe sales targeting such holidays and celebrations as the New Year’s, passing entrance exams, Girls’ Day, is also planned.

After sending in an episode of a “celebratory day,” ten people will be chosen every month for a Hokkaido gourmet set (salmon and salon roe); this campaign called “’a celebratory day’ is ‘a salmon roe day’” will continue until the end of March next year.

As far as scallop is concerned, marketing by some celebrities, TV commercials within Hokkaido, newspaper ad-flyer dissemination, and a tie-up with Kewpie and Mizkan have been aggressively taken on, just like chum salmon.

The original article was published on August 28, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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