Tuna prices worldwide firmed up again in September


The report analyses the market situation until October 2017  

With the catch situation poor during the July–October ban on fish aggregating devices (FAD) and the 'veda' fishing closures period in the Pacific Ocean, frozen tuna prices strengthened further to reach a record of USD 2 400 per tonne in October 2017. Meanwhile, demand for raw material from canneries in Asia and Latin America improved due to the decline in landings.

In the Central and Western Pacific Ocean, the annual four-month ban on FADs and general poor landings resulted in a rise in frozen skipjack prices. In September, local inventories of raw material in Thailand were still reported to be low. Increased demand from canneries resulted in a further rise in delivery prices of frozen skipjack in October 2017 to USD 2 100 per tonne, cost and freight (CFR) Bangkok, which is 35 percent higher than the same month last year. 
In the Eastern Pacific, the first ‘veda’ fishing closing started on 29 July and remained in place until 8 October; reportedly 30 percent of the Ecuadorian fleet participated during this period. Lower catches subsequently resulted in a price rise for skipjack. Raw material stocks are currently low in Ecuadorian canneries, where skipjack prices were reported higher than the price levels in Bangkok. 
In the Indian Ocean, tuna catches improved as of early October and raw material inventories at local canneries remained healthy. Meanwhile, exports from this area through trans-shipment increased in response to the rising demand from Asian canneries. Strong demand in both Thailand and Ecuador also supported the price rise for both skipjack and yellowfin tuna. 
In the Atlantic Ocean, moderate catches have been reported. Skipjack prices continue to increase whereas yellowfin prices remain stable. Month to month increases for skipjack have been notable; in July, skipjack prices shot up by almost 20 percent compared with June, and continue to rise. In September, prices passed USD 2 000 per tonne, a historic high for the past five years.
Tuna canners in Europe are resuming normal activities after the summer holiday season, with demand for raw material now growing. 
Fresh and frozen tuna market (non-canned) 
United States of America 
Consumer demand for fresh and frozen tuna remained steady in the US market, with increased imports reported during the first half of 2017 by 1.4 percent (+400 tonnes). This was made up of fresh and frozen whole/dressed tuna, fillets and steaks that totalled about 28 900 tonnes. 
Imports of high-value bluefin (fresh and frozen) increased from 600 tonnes in 2016 to almost 900 tonnes this year during the January-June period. There was also a 4 percent increase (+560 tonnes) in frozen loin imports, to reach 13 900 tonnes. Supplies increased from the top two exporters; Indonesia (+8 percent) and Viet Nam (+15 percent) but declined from the Philippines. 
Imports for whole/dressed sashimi-grade tuna (bluefin, bigeye and yellowfin) in Japan were record low during the first half of 2017, as demand for fresh tuna was limited to the spring festival period in April/May. Imports of frozen bluefin and bigeye were also less compared with last year’s due to the same reason. 
However, the market continued to enjoy strong demand for frozen tuna loins, with imports increasing by 15 percent during the first half of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. In volume, Atlantic bluefin had the highest share in frozen loin imports (38 percent), followed by yellowfin (29 percent) and bigeye (25 percent). Atlantic bluefin loins were supplied by Malta, Turkey, Croatia and Spain. For the red-meat quality loins (bigeye and yellowfin), the Republic of Korea and China were the leading suppliers. In recent years, China has replaced Taiwan Province of China as the second largest supplier of frozen loins to Japan.
Canned tuna market
During the first half of 2017, Thailand, Ecuador, Spain, the Philippines and China were the top exporters of processed and canned tuna in the global market. These countries had varied exporting trends mainly due to growing raw material prices and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits for some countries to the EU28, the largest canned tuna importing market.
Compared with the same period last year, exports of canned and processed tuna increased from Ecuador (+26 percent), Spain (+15 percent), and the Philippines (+90 percent) during January–June 2017 but declined from Thailand (-16 percent ) and China (-19 percent). 
Exports to the United States of America and Canada suffered during the review period, particularly for the conventional canned tuna in brine. Exports to the EU28 were at a record low, coming to only 
18 000 tonnes, as Thailand has to pay the full tariff for canned tuna exports to the EU28 (24 percent), making exports more challenging. Demand from the Middle Eastern markets (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon) also declined, possibly due to rising tuna prices and available stocks in these markets from last year’s imports. 
Ecuador’s zero tariff and no quota status in the EU28 market was the key factor behind the overall growth in exports (+26 percent) during the January–June 2017 period. Supplies of cooked loins to the EU28 increased significantly by 87 percent to total 28 000 tonnes. Ecuadorian exports also increased to the regional markets of Argentina (+4.3 percent at 6 000 tonnes) and Chile (+66 percent at 5 000 tonnes). 
Spanish exports increased by 15 percent to over 53 100 tonnes during the review period. Only 6 percent of this volume was comprised of cooked loins, with the rest made up of higher-value processed and canned tuna for direct consumption. Nearly 80 percent of total exports from Spain entered the top five markets; Italy, France, Portugal, Germany, and the Netherlands. 
An estimated 35 000–40 000 tonnes of canned and processed tuna were exported from the Philippines during the first half of 2017. Nearly 60 percent of these entered the EU28 markets (24 500 tonnes), where the product group (HS 160414) is now able to take advantage of duty-free status. The main markets in the EU28 were Germany (37 100 tonnes +36 percent), the United Kingdom (5 700 tonnes, -1.5 percent) and Spain (3 500 tonnes, +305 percent). Exports to Spain mainly consisted of cooked loins, with supplies increasing significantly by 300 percent due to the duty-free status of Filipino processed tuna. However, other significant Filipino markets did not fare as well, due to a raw material shortage. Exports to both the United States of America and Japan declined by 51 percent and 11 respectively during the period. 
United States of America
The United States of America, the largest canned tuna market, imported 2.2 percent less canned and processed tuna (89 100 tonnes) during the first half of 2017 as consumer demand for the conventional tuna in brine remained flat for more than a year. Thailand, China, Ecuador, Viet Nam and Fiji continued to be the main suppliers. Import demand for the higher-value ‘tuna in pouch’ increased by 19 percent during this period. Another positive development in the market was the rising imports of canned and pouched albacore (in brine and in oil). 30 percent of US imports of processed tuna were made up of cooked loins (26 900 tonnes). 
European Union
Moderate tuna prices during the first half of the year and the duty-free status of Ecuadorean and Filipino tuna resulted in a 13 percent rise in EU28 imports of processed and canned tuna during January–June 2017, compared with the same period a year ago. Imports totalled 382 500 tonnes, with the top five markets being Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The leading three markets largely imported cooked loins for reprocessing but imports in the United Kingdom (-6.6 percent) and Germany (+2.2 percent) mainly consisted of canned and pouched tuna for direct consumption. 
Nearly 70 percent of the EU28’s canned and processed tuna imports came from extra-EU28 countries. Of the total volume from extra-EU28 countries, 67 percent was made up of canned and pouched tuna for direction consumption, with less than one percent growth. The remaining 33 percent of extra-EU28 imports was comprised of cooked loins for further processing sourced from Latin America, Asia/Pacific and Africa, with this segment posting growth of 28 percent. Intra-EU28 imports of canned tuna came from processors in Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. 
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation canned tuna market remains weak in 2017. Cumulative imports during January–June 2017 declined by almost 20 percent against the same period in 2016. Thailand, China and Ecuador took an 80 percent market share. 
Japan, Australia and New Zealand saw positive demand trends for canned tuna during January–June 2017, with all three markets importing higher-value products.
Canned tuna markets in East Asia did not improve much in 2017. Imports into Taiwan Province of China, Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Malaysia were lower than last year’s due to weak consumer demand and unsold stocks from earlier imports. Imports were also lower during the first half of 2017 in many emerging markets in the Middle East, Central Asia and West Africa, negatively impacting canned tuna exports from Asia. 


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