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Fish Feed Prices Shoot up to \600/Bag Due to Skyrocketing Fishmeal Prices

April 27, 2010

Fishmeal, indispensible to fish aquaculture, witnessed skyrocketing price hikes in 2009, as a result of increased demand from China, the earthquake in Chile, and the El Nino effect, among other factors. Even today, this historical price spike is setting a new record. In response to this phenomenon, fish feed manufacturers began to revise feed prices late March.

Some fish feed stakeholder said, "Price revisions differ depending on manufactures, fish species, and grades; a price for a bag of 50% fishmeal EP feed (20kg) is about \600 higher than before." However, he further commented: "The current fishmeal market prices are much higher than that of when the original price review was conducted. Each manufacturer may not be able to completely pass fishmeal price markups onto feed prices."

Regarding the future trend, his remark was "I hear that Chile is progressively recovering from the earthquake; I am expecting that the going rates of fishmeal will be stabilized."

Results of Low Fishmeal Fish Feed with Added Taurine

Low fishmeal fish feed that uses taurine, whose use was permitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery last June, has been on the market.

Hitoshi Matsuo of the Kagoshima Prefecture Higashi-Machi Fisheries Cooperatives, the main production area of buri (Japanese amberjack), commented on Taurine added fish feed: "Its price is just 10 percent less than a conventional kind. Also, fish like to eat feed containing more fishmeal. It may be improved today, but low fishmeal feed before taurine came to the picture, generated concerns over its taste and anti-disease property. There is a possibility that this low fishmeal feed may develop fish that are not fishy at all; our fisheries cooperatives haven't opted for that type of feed, yet."

Nojime (bled at a production site) prices of farmed yellowtail were running around \650 from late March to early April; by the end of April the prices went up to around \700, \140 higher than an average nojime price for April last year (\559). However, for producers who depend on conventional feed at an increased rate, Mr. Matsuo said, "Production cost when EP feed is used has jumped \70-100. So, even when yellowtail going rates jump by \100, that doesn't mean anything."

On the other hand, Kinichi Haraguchi, Executive Director of "Kagoshima JF Sales," located at a production area of kanpachi (greater amberjack), expressed his expectation of low fishmeal feed: "There are many kanpachi producers who rely on live and mash feed. I know that some producers successfully reached good outcomes using low fishmeal EP feed. I am certain that manufacturers will keep on marketing improved low fishmeal feed, and we will continue to use it."

The original article was published on April 27, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Farmed Fish Market Prices Take Huge Hike Because of Higher Fishmeal Prices and Low Pond Inventory

April 27, 2010

Fish feed prices rose in late March, leading to a hike in farmed fish market prices. By late April kanpachi (greater amberjack) prices shot up by \430; red sea bream by \180; and yellowtail by \140, in comparison with an average market price for last April. In the midst of such a fish feed price spike, the market rate for late April and the forecast of each farmed fish go as follows:

Cultured Kanpachi Hit \430 Price Surge Due to Low Pond Inventory and Cold Water Temps

On April 22, nojime (bled at a production site) kanpachi were dealt at \1,250 and kanpachi for ikejime (bled just before serving) were transacted at \1,400. Compared to an average price for last April (nojime \821 and ikejime \1,394), nojime price climbed extra \430. This was due to the fact that the pond inventory amount is just 70 percent of the amount last year. Furthermore, the cold water temperature at 15 °C has been hindering the growth of fish, not big enough for sale.

Toshiaki Yamaguchi, Manager of the Fresh Fish Dept 4 of Chuo Gyorui, made the following comment: "There is a speculation that after the Golden Week Holidays premature kanpachi will become big enough to be shipped out, which will halt the price hike." Seemingly, the price surge will hit the peak before new arrivals in June.

Moreover, Mr. Yamaguchi said, "Mass retailers and supermarkets are reading the boiling market prices. There are not that many people who are willing to purchase highly marked up fish. Therefore, some middle traders and local wholesalers are having such a hard time."

He further explained, "Prior to the provision of the Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS), when kanpachi prices shot up a few years back, I heard that there were some supermarkets that were selling cobia as black kanpachi. But, it's not allowed today. As a substitute, farmed hiramasa (yellowtail amberjack) were used; however, now pond inventory quantities are quite low. Cultured red sea bream prices also hit the roof all of a sudden, volume retailers and supermarkets cannot help but sell kanpachi."

Yoichi Onimaru, Counselor of the Kagoshima Prefecture Fisheries Cooperatives, located in the main production area, expressed his concern about even further drastic price increases: "If this bullish market trend lasts longer, the fish may be removed from a store shelf. I hear a story that the market share of kanpachi is now half of what it was before."

According to "Kagoshima JF Sales", which deals with the marketing of kanpachi from the Kagoshima Prefecture Fisheries Cooperatives 5, the port auction price reached \1,100 on April 26.

Kinichi Haraguchi, Executive Director of Kagoshima JF Sales, spoke, "We announced that we wanted to sell the fish for \950 to put a brake on substantial price increases. We wished to raise the prices by \10; however, they started to rise from the Shikoku area, and now they are going up by \50. Just like vegetables whose yields are affected by cold temperatures, once the water temperature rises and kanpachi grow big enough to hit the market, the price hikes will temporarily peak out. Fishermen cannot name the price, but we keep producing the needed amounts."

Farmed Red Sea Bream Prices Swell by \180 in Short Period of Time

Cultured red sea bream, experiencing low prices for two consecutive years, began to see sudden price increases late March and by the end of April nojime prices have been between \700 and 750, \180 to 130 higher than the last April's average nojime price of \568.

This year's pond inventory is 75 percent of last year. Mostly solid feed (EP), instead of live feed, has been used and due to this practice increasing fishmeal prices are creating an adverse effect on the fish prices.

Chuo Gyorui Manager Yamaguchi projected "higher prices reaching \750 to 800 in May." He also warned that "A dangerous situation will arrive once the port auction price hits a \800 mark."

Farmed Yellowtail Mark \140 Increase Despite Pressure from Wild Buri

Cultured yellowtail nojime prices fluctuated around \650 from late March through early April, a \90 increase from an average price for last April (nojme price of \559).

Nojime prices as of late April are moving around \700 and ikejime prices are about \850, showing a sign of further increases. However, wild buri (Japanese amberjack) from Kochi and Mie Prefectures among others are arriving by 10,000 and more fish in bulk are coming in from purse seining fisheries in Nagasaki each and every day. Wild buri prices per kg are \300-200 in Kyushu and around \300 in Mie. It is a normal thing for wild buri to be landed at this time of the year; according to Chuo Gyorui Team Leader Mitsuru Tashiro who said, "The fish tend to keep coming in without any interruption and the quantities are abundant this year." In the case where wild buri are not fatty enough to be a worthwhile product despite their copious quantities, cultured yellowtail can pick up a slot; however, "Water temperatures are low and also a fishing season is long this year. We have no clue when this will end," said Mr. Tashiro. Pressured by wild buri, there are not that many open slots for farmed yellowtail this year, a lot fewer than usual. In the middle of the price hike of kanpachi, anticipation for farmed two-year old yellowtail is growing.

The original article was published on April 27, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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