Thailand: Canned tuna exports fell below 2020 price levels in many markets

At the INFOFISH World Tuna conference held in May 2021, industry leaders projected moderate declines in demand for canned tuna worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic eases. Panic buying by households declined during the second half of 2020 and many markets are holding stocks from last year’s high imports.

In Thailand, the largest producer and exporter of canned tuna, exports of this product group declined by nearly 12 percent during the first four months of the year. Among the top ten destinations, exports remained below last year’s price level from all regions except Egypt and Yemen. In the United States of America, the share of canned tuna exports declined to 21.5 percent compared with 24 percent of the 2020 corresponding period.

Thailand: Export trends of canned/processed tuna during January-April 

% change 2021/2020






30 405

44 272

35 264



14 298


23 110



10 583

12 5000

12 237




12 700

11 950


Saudi Arabia

12 135

11 062

10 093



8 138

10 587

10 087


Total including others

167 454

185 638

163 678


The procurement of frozen raw material for canning, however, remained stable during this period. Thai canners imported 246 762 tonnes of frozen skipjack, yellowfin, and albacore, which were marginally higher (+ 3 percent) than last year’s corresponding period. Frozen skipjack imports were marginally higher by 3.5 percent at 188 700 tonnes, while yellowfin imports were lower by 21 percent at 40 000 tonnes against the same period in 2020. Demand for semi-processed cooked loins remains good from Thai canners, for which imports increased by 17.7 percent at 12 270 tonnes, primarily supplied by China (44 percent) and Indonesia (37 percent).

Tags: tuna, canned tuna, exports


Expensive lobster

As demand for luxury products like lobster is returning, prices are rising, and supplies of North American lobster (Homarus americanus) are tight. During the summer, demand is good, but landings, as well as inventory, remain low. Landings in Canada’s Northeast were relatively good during the winter but fell in April and May. At the same time, demand in China is rising again, and although prices are high, shipments are building slowly. Catches in the US Northwest, where Maine is dominating, are uncertain. Massachusetts closed the lobster fishery from 5 March to 13 May because of new standards to protect the right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), and this certainly did not help supplies. In addition, bait is in short supply as landings of herring have been poor.

Tags: lobster, luxury products, demand


Coldwater shrimp prices rising

Coldwater shrimp (Pandalus borealis) is a typical summer species in Northern Europe. Supplies have varied substantially over the past few years, as quantities have been limited. Prices to the fishers for cooked, shell-on shrimp in mid-June reached a record high of NOK 160 per kg. Supplies in the south of Norway are weak, and this, coupled with rising summer demand, is pushing prices upwards.

Tags: Coldwater shrimp, prices, supplies, Northern Europe


Norway and the Faroe Islands setting their mackerel quotas

Failure to reach an agreement on mackerel quotas for 2021 has led Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands to set their own unilateral quotas. The Faroes set their quota at 167 048 tonnes, while Iceland set its quota at 140 627 tonnes, and Norway at 298 299 tonnes. The quotas for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union have been set at 222 228 tonnes and 200 279 tonnes, respectively. Consequently, the total quota for 2021 is up by over 20 percent to 1 028 481 tonnes. Quotas for Greece and the Russian Federation have yet to be decided.

Tags: mackerel, quotas, Norway, Faroe Islands


Whitefish supply expected to grow by 4 percent in 2021

Presentations at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in Bergen in June indicated that global whitefish supplies are expected to grow by some 4 percent or 700 000 tonnes in 2021. This includes both wild-caught fish and aquaculture species.

Supplies from harvest fisheries are expected to increase slightly from 7.4 million tonnes in 2020 to 7.65 million tonnes in 2021 (+2.8 percent), while whitefish from aquaculture is expected to grow from 12.56 million tonnes in 2020 to 13.08 million tonnes in 2021 (+4.1 percent).

Pangasius will be growing markedly after a period of lower production. Tilapia production is also expected to increase. Catfish, on the other hand, will have a decline of nearly 200 000 tonnes.

Catches of Atlantic cod by Norway, the Russian Federation, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands were up by nine percent as of the end of March. Norwegian catches were up by 9 990 tonnes to 166 555 tonnes, Icelandic catches increased by 36 090 tonnes to 114 320 tonnes, while Russian catches dropped from 101 880 tonnes in 2020 to 93 080 tonnes during the first quarter of 2021.

Tags: whitefish, pangasius, Atlantic cod, Norway, production


Alaska pollock and cod prices to rise

Prices for Alaska pollock from the Russian Federation are expected to rise during the rest of the year as neither the Russian Federation nor the United States of America are able to meet the increasing demand in global markets. In addition, frozen Alaska pollock demand has risen markedly as many markets are partly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, pressure on prices is building, and this situation is expected to last throughout 2021.

Prices for frozen cod are also expected to rise. Frozen cod prices for sizes over 2.5 kg have continued to rise steadily since January, and June prices are already higher than in May. This indicates that market conditions are gradually returning to “normal”, although the COVID-19 pandemic still affects demand for cod.


Tags: Alaska pollock, cod, prices, Russian Federation, COVID-19



Norwegian exports of klipfish and salted fish recovering

During the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for traditional salted and dried whitefish (klipfish) weakened but now appears to be recovering. Norwegian export statistics for May show a 24 percent increase by volume and a 29 percent increase by value compared to May 2020. Portugal is leading this recovery, not surprisingly. In May 2021, Portugal took 80 percent of Norwegian klipfish exports, which amounted to 5 600 tonnes. Demand in Portugal has been good during the pandemic, thanks largely to lower prices, as global demand remained weak.

Tags: Norwegian, exports, klipfish, whitefish


Cod farming costing billions in losses

Some 20 years ago, several fish farming companies in Norway invested in cod farming, and most of them went bankrupt. Today, there is new interest in cod farming, even though billions of Norwegian krone (NOK) were lost. But now, market conditions are better, technology has dramatically improved, and production costs are lower than 20 years ago. As a result, ever-optimistic investors, most of whom made their money in salmon farming, are ready to try another round.

Tags: Norway, cod, farming, markets


Suspension of EU retaliatory tariffs on US seafood extended for five more years

The Alaskan salmon industry received some welcome news in June as the United States of America and the European Union came to an agreement to prolong a suspension of retaliatory tariffs on around USD 11.5 billion’s worth of goods for five more years. Both sides introduced these tariffs as part of a decades-long dispute over government support for aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, with the most recent development being the EU’s decision to impose tariffs worth some USD 4 billion on several product categories, including Alaskan Pacific salmon, in November 2020.

Following an initial 4-month suspension period announced in March 2021, this latest extension will give negotiators a much longer timeframe to reach a more permanent arrangement. With the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America coming to a similar agreement around the same time, much of the uncertainty dragging on the outlook for seafood traders on both sides of the Atlantic has now been resolved. In particular, it has created a more stable business environment for the Alaskan salmon industry just as the summer fishing season takes off US Atlantic scallop traders, which were also hit by the November tariffs, will be similarly relieved.

Tags: Bivalves, Tariffs, Salmon, Exports, Imports


Promising outlook for the fishmeal and fish oil industry

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still dragging down the global economy, the fishmeal and fish oil industry has weathered the challenges successfully. In Peru, the government has implemented a number of preventative measures to sustain normal operations. The quota for the first anchovy fishing season in the north-central area of Peru in 2021 was recently announced, with an allowable catch totaling 2.5 million tonnes. This amount will ensure a stable supply until the end of this year. The reopening of the Chinese economy, combined with China’s upcoming aquaculture season and recovery of its hog farming sector, will boost demand for fishmeal and fish oil. At the same time, easing COVID-19 restrictions in the European Union and the United States of America in line with vaccine roll-out programmes will contribute to market balance. Stable prices for fishmeal and fish oil are forecast to continue in 2021.  

Tags: fishmeal, fish oil, quota, Peru  


Fish production in CARIFORUM countries

Fish production in CARIFORUM countries1 is somewhat limited. Production peaked at 666 000 tonnes in 2010, to decline to only 278 000 tonnes in 2013. Since then, production has experienced some ups and downs to reach 375 000 tonnes in 2019. Thus, CARIFORUM countries do not play an important role as international players. The total output of these countries represents 0.04% of world fish production. This share has been declining over time, as overall CARIFORUM production fell stable, world fish production increased steadily. 

Statistical information on species composition in CARIFORUM fish production is not very detailed. Two-thirds of the reported production in 2019 were pelagic species or marine species, not specified. Among the one-third of identified species, tuna is the most important group, accounting for 45 000 tonnes in 2019, or 12 percent of total production. In the second place, shrimp imports totalled  24 000 tonnes in 2019, or 8 percent of total fish production in the CARIFORUM countries. This important species group with regard to export performance experienced a severe decline from 34 000 tonnes in 2018. Lobster, yet another important species for export earnings, also declined from the  2009-2018 average of 11 000 tonnes.  Graph 2 shows very clearly that the decline in production between 2010-2019 was caused by lower pelagic fish production. 

Graph 1: Fish production in CARIFORUM countries

Source: FAO FishStat J, 2021 

CARIFORUM countries are net importers in value terms in trade terms, representing 0.005% of total world imports and 0.002% of total world exports. The most important commodity in value terms as the export product is lobster, followed by Queen conch. On the import side, traditional products such as cured herring and dried saltfish are the most important items. In the global arena, the importance of the CARAIFORUM is marginal and declining. The total import value was USD 500 million in 2019, which compares to USD 390 million as export earnings. CARIFORUM countries have not always been net importers of fishery products. For instance, in the nineties of the last century and the first six years of the new century, CARIFORUM countries were net exporters in value terms.  

Tags: statistics, exports, imports, CARIFORUM 

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