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Fisheries Research Agency Introduces “Frost Shattering Surimi”

November 4, 2008

The Agribusiness Creation Fair 2008 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery was held in Tokyo from October 29 to 30, 2008; Noriko Ishida, a senior researcher of National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Fisheries Research Agency, presented a research study “whole fish surimi -round surimi (frost shattering surimi).-”

The new technique was developed as a result of the failure of the existing method to utilize anchovy due to its size and fragility; the new procedure entails quick-freezing and shattering of raw materials, and effective alkaline cleansing (the mince method).

The new method enables the optimal utilization of marine products, using the entire fish, including heads and organs, with a yield ratio of 50 percent. At the fair, the institute provided black hanpen (a light, puffy cake made of ground fish), made from surimi from the new invention. The sample product was well accepted by the attendees, including a fish paste products manufacturer in Shizuoka Prefecture with a wish to use the surimi as a raw material. This particular hanpen expended anchovy and mackerel surimi for the purpose of the whitening effect.

The original article was published on November 4, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

High-Priced Russian King Crab Causes Shift to Snow Crab

November 4, 2008

With the current financial downturn causing consumers to become shy about spending on high-grade merchandise, the outcome of the year-end crab (king crab and snow crab) sales battle is uncertain.

High-priced Russian king crab may encourage a shift to snow crab, given its unchanging price, in the year-end sales competition.

The key to success in the crab sales blitz will depend upon how affordability can be achieved. Japan imports 60 percent of king and snow crab from Russia and US imports account for 30 percent.

The overall crab import amount moved around 11,000 to 12,000 tons, as opposed to below 10,000 tons last year, when control of illegal crab fishing became more stringent in Russia.

The import restrictions by the Russian government have made this year another year of limited supply. Russian crabs possessing overwhelming market share is in the decline.

Combining frozen and fresh crabs, it is estimated that snow crab imports will slightly decline from 39,500 tons in 2007 to 34,000 tons in 2008; and king crab from 19,300 tons in 2007 to 14,000 tons in 2008.

The snow crab import amount in 1996, at its peak time, was 45,400 tons; however the fishing restrictions of ’06 and ’07 finished in a drastic decrease, shedding little promising light on years to come.

The wholesale price of a large size king crab, mainly from Russia, in the past, was from late \1,000 to early \2,000 per kg. Declines in crab supply from Russia triggered a sharp price upsurge this year.

The wholesale price of king crab last October was about \2,000/kg, however earlier this year the price jumped high above \2,000/kg. Limited crab supply forced the price to exceed \2,500/kg at one point, making the product prices toward the end of the year climb up, compared with last year.

In contrast, Alaskan king crab, more popular than Russian kind, tending to be as large as 3L and 4L, earned higher transaction prices. In the midst of shrinking supply of Russian king crab, if it maintains the price as high as \2,600/kg like last year, underlining the affordability of Alaskan king crab, there will be a possible move towards Alaskan king crab.

As for Russian snow crab, it was transacted at more than \1,200/kg in 2007, and from earlier this year, the price started to climb down. The hot-selling products run from \1,100 to 1,200/kg, keeping the price lower than last year.

The original article was published on November 4, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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