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Chairperson of National Surimi Manufacturers Association, Mr. Kitagawa Says Increase in Domestic Production Possible

April 10, 2008

Amid a tight supply of frozen surimi, Mr. Seiichi Kitagawa, chairperson of the National Surimi Manufacturers Association, whose members are Japanese surimi manufacturers, said: “Surimi production will not grow while the supply of the raw material is restricted. One possibility for increasing production is to use fall chum salmon as the raw material, but such an avenue would require that prices for fall chum salmon in Japan be balanced with the prices set for export of that fish to China. The structures for manufacturing surimi from fall chum salmon are already in place and domestic surimi production could be increased if the Japanese manufacturers of surimi products are prepared to buy the fall salmon surimi at high prices.”

He revealed his intentions further, saying: “The Association has already started research into the manufacture of surimi from Pacific saury. If any concrete results emerge from that research, we would like to release them. The point is that we will make any kind of fish, even small fry, into surimi if the manufacturers of surimi products will buy them from us.”

According to Mr. Kitagawa’s Association, production of surimi at seven onshore factories in Japan and on two Japanese catcher-processors in 2007 totaled 28,200 tons, which represents 81% of the previous year’s total production. Of this, 20,100 tons (being 95% of the 2006 total), was pollock surimi, and 8,100 tons (being 60% of the 2006 total) was surimi of fish other than pollock. Of this surimi of other fish, 7600 tons (being 59% of the 2006 total) was made with Atka mackerel.

The price for Atka mackerel at the ports has been soaring recently. The price currently stands at 60 to 70 yen per kilo, making Atka mackerel less and less suitable as a raw material for the manufacture of surimi.

In the future, if the price of surimi goes up in the USA or in other countries, it will become feasible to manufacture surimi even using high-priced fish. This is why it is thought that it will become possible to manufacture surimi from fall chum salmon, which currently is exported to China. (No salmon-based surimi was produced in 2007.)

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