Tuna - June 2015
2015-06-08 14:44:33   copyfrom:globefish    hits:

In 2014, frozen skipjack prices hit a six year low, resulting in non-traditional market demand worldwide.

Japan remained the largest market for sashimi tuna, though waning consumer demand and falling imports led to market shrinkage. The USA has emerged as the second largest import market for fresh/chilled tuna. Meanwhile, import prices of fresh tuna loins increased significantly in the EU following the import ban on Sri Lankan tuna.
Supply
Catches of yellowfin and skipjack in the Eastern and Western Pacific have increased since July 2014, however import demand from Southeast Asian canners did not match this supply trend. Indeed, Thai imports of frozen skipjack and yellowfin in 2014 fell by 10% and 7% respectively in comparison with 2013 imports. Likewise, in the Philippines, tuna landings increased by 14% in 2014 to 194 000 tonnes, while imports for canning were lower, particularly for yellowfin. This trend did not come into full effect until late 2014 however, as from January to October, Filipino tuna packers imported 41 000 tonnes of frozen skipjack, an increase of 31% higher compared with 2013.
In the Western and Central Pacific, skipjack catches have been strong. Thai packers have been slow in placing large orders, which could be a strategy to bring prices down, possibly to as low as USD 1 000 per tonne. Meanwhile, the cost of fishing is likely to decrease given the substantial decline in fuel prices. During late February 2015, the delivery price of frozen skipjack to Southeast Asia canneries reached USD 1 050 per tonne.
In the Atlantic Ocean, the ICCAT FAD closure ended on 28 February 2015. Tuna catches have since improved with yellowfin making up the majority of landings. Prices of both skipjack and yellowfin have declined due to limited demand from the canneries. 
In the Eastern Pacific, catches have also improved, with mainly skipjack being landed. Local canneries continue to report healthy inventories but low processing activity.
Within the aquaculture sector, global production of farmed bluefin tuna is expected to have reached 35 000 tonnes in 2014, about 500 tonnes more than in 2013. This increase could lead to some price weakening in the sashimi tuna market. Prices of bigeye and yellowfin tuna may also be affected by this trend. Supplies of Atlantic bluefin and Southern bluefin are forecasted to increase by 10%, whereas Pacific bluefin production is estimated to decline by the same percentage.
Meanwhile, the first attempt to farm bigeye and yellowfin tuna in Mexico has been unsuccessful due to a high mortality of juveniles, which is linked to feeding issues. As a result, commercial farming of bigeye and yellowfin has ceased for now.
In Japan, the annual landings of fresh and frozen tuna in 2014 declined compared with 2013. Catches of bluefin and bigeye tuna were stable.
Contrary to the global trend, skipjack landings were lower in 2014 than the previous year, particularly from the local pole and line fishery. As a result, skipjack prices for processing bushi or dried products remained relatively higher in the Japanese domestic market compared with products used for canning in Southeast Asia. So far for 2015, Japanese pole and line skipjack catches have been delayed, but the average catch rate has already improved compared with last year.
Recently confirmed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Authority, the word famous Tsukiji wholesale fish market in Japan will soon be closing to be replaced by Toyosu Wholesale Market in November 2016.
Non-canned tuna market (fresh and frozen)
Japan
For 2014, Japan remained the largest sashimi tuna market but with waning demand. Overall imports of raw tuna for the year were 3.4% higher at 227 702 tonnes compared with 2013. However, in a noticeable trend, the market imported less fresh tuna and more frozen tuna including loins.
Following the decade long negative trend, imports of air-flown fresh tuna were at half their level in 2014 when compared with the quantity imported in 2006.
Imports of frozen tuna loins, which have longer shelf life, increased marginally during this period.  As of January 2015, frozen yellowfin inventories were high in the market due to the carry over stocks from last year as well as from large supplies by Chinese long liners.
In March this year, demand for fresh tuna increased marginally in wholesale trading but remained below the expected level due to the cold weather. From the beginning of 2015, auction prices of frozen bigeye tuna remained firm with stable demand compared with the expensive bluefin tuna. Frozen bigeye tuna prices increased by 3-10% during the last one and a half years due to lower catches.
USA
In recent years, the USA has emerged as the second largest market for non-canned and sashimi tuna after Japan. While demand for canned tuna remained flat, there were increased imports of fresh and frozen tuna in 2014 compared with 2013. Annual imports of fresh/chilled and frozen tuna (including loins) exceeded 40 000 tonnes. In 2014, the market imported more than 22 000 tonnes of fresh/chilled tuna and loins (air-flown), which is a volume almost equal to the annual imports of fresh/chilled tuna in Japan. In addition, there was another 21 000 tonnes of raw frozen loins imported, which was processed from yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Notably in 2014, the average import prices of frozen tuna loins and frozen salmon fillets were almost equitable at USD 9.50 per kg.
Canned Tuna
Exports
Export trends from Thailand, the leading producer of canned tuna, demonstrate growth in global demand for canned tuna in 2014, largely as a result of the lower price of skipjack. Indeed, in volume terms, Thai exports of canned tuna in 2014 increased by 10% compared with 2013. However, due to the general weakening of lower raw materials, the export value declined by 2.1%
In value terms, the top five export markets for Thai canned tuna were the USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and Libya. In terms of volumes however, the rank of export markets shifted to the USA, Egypt, Australia, Libya and Japan. The USA was the lead market for Thai canned tuna, taking an 18% share in total exports. Additionally, exports to the USA increased by almost 13% in 2014 compared with the previous year. Egypt replaced Australia as the second largest export destination in 2014. Thai canned tuna exports also increased to Australia, which was the third largest market. Due to the political unrest, there were lower exports to Libya. Japan experienced lower exports as well, which was associated with the weakening yen.
In the traditional EU markets, Thai canned tuna exports declined by 27% to the UK, 25% to France (mainly cooked loins), and 44% to Poland. Exports increased to the Netherlands (+13%) and Germany (+12%).
There were significantly higher exports from Thailand to the Middle East and North African markets namely: Jordan (+109%), Syria (+24%), Iran (+133%), Iraq (+335%), Oman (+34%), Tunisia (+12%), Morocco (+398%) and Turkey (+426%). In Latin America, Chile and Peru were the important markets for Thai canned tuna, where imports increased by 42% and 112% respectively. Thailand also exported more canned tuna to small and new markets in Asia and Africa.
Imports
Import demand for canned tuna in 2014 has increased, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa markets (MENA), which has been supported by lower prices of skipjack. In contrast, imports into the EU and USA, the top two markets, have remained flat. In fact, imports into the EU from non-EU countries declined moderately from 488 386 tonnes in 2013 to 487 602 in 2014. US imports were slightly higher, but experienced a negative demand trend for the main product group, tuna in brine.
Import volumes of canned tuna in 2014 compared with 2013 increased  in Japan (+1.1%), Australia (+2.5%) and Egypt, but declined in Canada (-5%) and Switzerland (-8%). Both New Zealand and Russia increased their imports significantly by almost 20% and 25% respectively. Strong imports were observed in the emerging markets in Latin America, mostly in Chile, Brazil, and Mexico.
USA
In the USA, the average import value of canned tuna was 13-14% lower in 2014 compared with 2013 due to weakening prices of skipjack. Nonetheless, imports of  canned tuna as well as the higher value pouch tuna dropped in 2013. Imports of canned albacore however, were higher despite the fact that this product costs more than the lightmeat skipjack and yellowfin.
The market also imported more cooked tuna loins for domestic processing, with imports increasing by 11.4% in 2014 to 77 817 tonnes. The top five suppliers were Thailand, China, Fiji, Mauritius and Colombia.
Overall, imports of processed and canned tuna in the US market were 3.2% higher in 2014 compared with the previous year, attributed to increased imports of canned albacore and cooked loins for domestic processing. The customs declared value of these products in 2014 totalled USD 1.06 billion compared with USD 1.14 billion in 2013.
EU
In 2014, import prices of canned tuna weakened considerably. However, the market did not respond to this development as both  imports of canned tuna for direct consumption as well as for reprocessing decreased.
Overall imports of processed tuna (HS 160414) into the EU, including cooked loins, totaled 487 602 tonnes in 2014 compared with 488 386 tonnes imported in 2013. The leading suppliers in order were Ecuador, Mauritius, Thailand, Seychelles, and the Philippines. Mauritius and the Philippines increased their exports to the EU while the others reported declines. The top five EU import markets were Italy, France, the UK, Spain and Germany.
The market also imported 108 182 tonnes of cooked loins in 2014, which was a moderate 2% more than the previous year. Spain was the largest buyer. Ecuador was the leading supplier, though it experienced a 30% decline in exports, followed by Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and China. Imports from Thailand and China increased by 57% and 25% respectively.
Other Markets
Japan, Australia and Egypt are all important export markets for Asian canned tuna producers, with imports into all three markets increasing in 2014 over 2013.
Brazil reported significantly higher imports of canned tuna (+87%) with Ecuador, Thailand and Portugal as the main suppliers. Egypt remains an important market for Asian exporters, although imports declined in 2014 compared with 2013.
Outlook
Demand for sashimi tuna is expected to improve in Japan during the spring festival in April and May. Likewise in the USA, summer demand for non-canned tuna is expected to be strong. In the price sensitive EU markets however, the steep increase in the Southeast Asian fresh tuna export price will likely impact consumer demand negatively.
Frozen skipjack prices seem to have stabilized at USD 1 050 per tonne for delivery to Thailand. As a result, canned tuna prices are unlikely to weaken further in the short-term.
US imports of canned tuna in January 2015 increased by 5% compared with the same month in 2014. Canned tuna imports into Australia and Japan also increased by 9% and 22% respectively over the same time period. These trends reflect positive indications for the first quarter of 2015 for the canned tuna market. 

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