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Alaskan Crab Imports Look to Year-End Sales Glitz

November 6, 2008

The total import volume of Alaskan king crab from the US in 2007 was 2,500 tons, 2,200 tons of which were brought in from Alaska. Despite the forecast that the same amount will arrive in Japan this year, the king crab imports may increase the previous yearfs totals due to shrinking demand in the US.

Until last year, deflation and a weakened yen were dominated by inflation and a stronger dollar; the financial slowdown in September upset the whole scenario. In the US, stagnant consumer spending trends are evidenced by drops in restaurant sales by 20 to 30 percent, compared with the previous month. It is expected that demand in the American market will stagnate this season.

Upon supplying the domestic market, American packaging companies prefer to ship their products to the Japanese market; fear of being unable to collect payment from their US clients drives this preference. US companies would rather sell their products in bulk to Japan, than to the domestic market in smaller quantities.

With a drop in king crab supply, sales in snow crab grew in the year-end sales competition last year. It is expected that the same trend will take place this year.

Conventionally, crabs are put on sale by volume retailers in accordance with special occasions; cherry blossom observation in April, the Obon festival in August, and the New Yearfs. Starting in the early year, crabs are consumed in small amounts; then before the year ends, large quantities are expended at general merchandisers. There is a recent trend where some retailers chose to shelve crabs only at the end of the year, indicating the increasing importance of year-end sales volumes for crab sales. Today, not only crabs, but also other high-end foodstuffs are facing sales slumps at mass retailers.

According to the September sales report by the National Association of Supermarkets, that tuna, fish roe, and unagi failed to provide affordability ended in a decline in consumption.

gThere is a consumer appetite for crabs in the New Yearfsh

Some market stakeholders spoke of a trend of crabs in the year-end sales battle; gRussian crabs basically set the standard, but it is difficult to predict it until we begin to receive Alaskan crabs. If the Alaskan king crab price stays unchanged from last year, there may be a growing demand.h He continues; gRussian king crabs are expensive, so more affordable Russian snow crab or Alaskan king crab, which is expensive but looks good, may move better. Though consumers are apprehensive about the future of the economy, I believe they still want to consume something good for the New Yearfs.h

gThere is consumer appetite for crabs. If consumers are willing to go overboard for the New Yearfs, more orders will come in,h said an importer.

Despite crabs being an expensive ingredient, if snow crabs and Alaskan king crabs manage to exhibit affordability, there is a high chance of consumption expansion at the end of the year.

The original article was published on November 6, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

October Tsukiji Market Statistics: Daito-Gyorui Reports 7% Yield Decrease

November 5, 2008

The October transaction volume (organic turnover) of seven wholesalers in Tsukiji Market was 51, 324 tons, or a 0.7 percent increase; the total value was \39.4 billion, or down 1.7 percent, indicating that there was a slight rise in quantity; however the sum amount somewhat dropped.

The average unit price slumped 2.3 percent, registering \768. Tsukiji-Uoichiba, Chiyoda Suisan, and Sogo Shokuhin managed to offset cheap unit prices by selling in large quantity.

In contrast, Daiichi Suisan managed to raise the unit price by 1.9 percent, resulting in \787, while the transaction amount fell to 4,619 tons by 5.6 percent and the total value of \3.633 billion meant a 3.8 percent decline.

Other markets outside of the Tsukiji Market are as follows (amount, unit price, and value):

Adachi: 2,681 tons (« 3.3%); \725 (1.1%); \1.945 bil («2.3%)
Ohta: 1,743 tons («7.4%); \839 (2.1%); \1.461 bil («5.5%)
Chiba: 2,254 tons (0.7%); \733 («3.7%); \1.652 bil («3%)
Funabashi: 2,357 tons («0.9%); \680 («2.1%); \1.63 bil («2.9%)
Kashiwa-Uoichi: 2,219 tons («3.6%); \791 («1.4%); \1.755 bil («4.9%)

October Transaction Amount in Tsukiji Market by Wholesaler (organic turnover)
Company Name


Unit Price

Value (million)


9,840 tons («0.9%)

\920 («0.3%)

\9,051 («1.2%)


10,698 tons («5%)

\781 («2.3%)

\8,356 («7.1%)

Thoto Suisan

8,702 tons (4.8%)

\887 («4.7%)

\7,720 («0.1%)


9,239 tons (4.6%)

\701 («1.5%)

\6,476 (3%)

Daiichi Suisan

4,616 tons («5.6%)

\787 (1.9%)

\3,633 («3.8%)

Chiyoda Suisan

7,502 tons (4.6%)

\460 («3.6%)

\3,449 (0.6%)

Sogo Shokuhin

724 tons (21.6%)

\1,042 («15.6%)

\755 (2.6%)


51,324 tons (0.7%)

\768 («2.3%)

\39,440 («1.7%)

The original article was published on November 5, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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