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2013 Seafood Exports Jump 25% to 550K Tons

January 31, 2014

According to preliminary trade statistics released Jan. 30 by the Ministry of Finance, the total amount of imported marine products (fishmeal included) from Jan thru Dec. 2013 numbered 2,472,959 tons, down 8.3 pct from 2012. The aggregate value came to JPY 1.5669 trillion (€11.4 billion/$15.3 billion), an increase of 5.1 percent. The year of 1989 (229,000 tons) was the last time when the annual import amount hit less than a 250,000-ton level.

The sum total of exports last year amounted to 551,986 tons, up 25.4 percent. The total value of JPY 221.6 billion (€1.61 billion/$2.2 billion), up 30.3 pct was recorded. A weaker yen that began at the beginning of the year fueled exports. Quantity-wise, the year of 2013 marked the third largest in the past 20 years, following 2007 (610,000 tons) and 2006 (590,000 tons). In terms of value, 2013 was ranked number two behind 2007 (JPY 238.2 billion).

Less Than 250,000 Tons in Imports

When the records of the past 20 years (back to 1993) are compared, seafood imports tended to display a downward trajectory after hitting the peak time in 2001 and 2002 (both 382,000 tons). From 2009 the level of 260,000-270,000 was maintained against a backdrop of a stronger yen; however, a weak yen that started early last year significantly impacted the imports, resulting in less than 250,000 tons.

The following commodities exhibited noticeable declines: yellow-fin tuna (down 21.4 percent YOY), bonito (down 26 percent), cod roe (down 23.9 percent), crab (down 31 percent), and fishmeal (down 22.7 percent). On the other hand, those that increased were cod/common hake (up 26.9 percent), mackerel (up 14.8 percent), Pacific ocean perch (up 35.2 percent), albacore (up 50.5 percent), bluefin tuna (up 39.3 percent), squid (up 24.1 percent), and octopus (up 24.1 percent).

The major commodities of salmon/trout and shrimp declined 7.6 percent and 5.6 percent respectively, managing the drop well within the 10 percent range; nonetheless, their average values hiked 15.2 percent and 32.2 percent respectively.

Imports propelled by the weak yen recorded steady shipments of major items. After the 2011 major earthquake and tsunami and in the following year 2012, the level of 400,000 tons and roughly JPY 170 billion was registered. Both quantity and value reverted to the pre-disaster state last year.

Items that were exported more than others were scallop (up 119.3 percent), salmon/trout (up 52.6 percent), bonito (up 34 percent), cod (up 34.8 percent), and saury (up 39 percent). The primary commodities showed increases in quantity and value all across the board; however, squid were slashed in half (down 52.8 percent).

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