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Southeast Asian Surimi Awaits Exhaustion of Stock in Japan

January 20, 2009

Surimi from Southeast Asia is witnessing a plummet in prices as a result of high inventory quantity yet to be consumed in Japan. Being unable to make a profit, producers have stopped production of surimi for Japan. Consumption of the stock in Japan will determine when the producers resume surimi production.

Volume of surimi inventories in Japan, most of which are from Southeast Asia, amounted to 93,000 tons as of late November, and it is expected that in December the amount will exceed 80,000 tons. The soaring surimi prices in the US caused a chain reaction in Southeast Asia earlier, leading to skyrocketing price hikes in the region. This high-priced surimi in the inventory is hindering new shipments of lower priced surimi. Producers in Southeast Asia will halt production lines until early February for celebration of the Chinese New Year, starting late this month.

Low-Priced Thai Surimi Fails to Meet Cost

The SA grade surimi produced in Thailand costs \300 per kg. However, prices of golden threadfin bream, a raw material, are 60 to 70 cents per kg, not being worth the production cost. Resultantly, Thai surimi producers began to manufacture imitation crab, converting the raw material to a product. Thailand is ready to resume surimi production for Japan, as long as the price meets the cost and as soon as the surimi inventories in Japan are wiped out.

Surimi production in Vietnam for its main purchaser, the South Korean market, was discontinued due to the declining S. Korean won. A recent resurgence of the currency contributed to the reopening of procuring activities of Vietnamese surimi on the S. Korean side. Japan purchased a limited amount of Vietnamese surimi, which met the Japan's quality standard; however, that Vietnamese producers stopped surimi production for its main client, S. Korea, meant that shipments to Japan also had to be halted. Now that Vietnam resumed the production for S. Korea, surimi for Japan also started to be manufactured.

As for surimi production in India, Indian fishing operations in the Pakistani waters were temporarily regulated; the moment the fishing ban was lifted, a series of the terror attacks in Mumbai took place, resulting in another halt of operations of Indian fishing boats in the Pakistani waters. Consequently, lowered supply of raw materials of surimi forced India to slow the production.

The original article was published on January 20, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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