Brief overview of Russian and US pollock markets as per last decade of February 2010

March 9, 2010 11:33

In the third decade of February 2010 the general character of Russian and US pollock fisheries changed notably, while the market trends showed no fundamental changes, according to the overview prepared by analysts of ( based on Japanese and Russian sources.

Even closer to the end of the month US factory trawlers and other fishery participants were still searching for strong runs of Bering Sea pollock in the sea's east and went on waiting for the beginning of a new wave of the spawning run. The fishing activity speeded up, but mainly due to joining of the participants who kept from catching pollock approximately until mid-February 2010 because of very weak situation on the grounds. The economic position of the fishery participants was still complicated by non-uniform catches in terms of quality, fish size and age, which didn't allow using their processing capacities (including surimi and fillet production lines) with full efficiency. However the catch growth was already sufficient to guarantee a noticable increase of supplies for US and foreign buyers.

A considerable growth of the fishing activity on the US grounds was registered already in the third week of February 2010 when the harvest increased nearly by 50% as compared with the second week of the month. However it only approached the level of 40,000 tonnes which meant that it was still much time before the beginning of the A season's basic phase. While in the second week of February 2010 the harvest was almost equal to the corresponding result of 2009, in the third week of the month it again fell far behind as compared to the same period of 2009 (-20%). Thus, at the beginning of the last decade of February the total pollock harvest in Alaska didn't reach 100,000 tonnes, practically 25% or 30,000 tonnes down on last year. Moreover, the harvest in the Bering Sea reached only about 90,000 tonnes and the general index was mostly maintained by the unusually fast catch rates in Alaska.

As for the situation with production of main commodities, in the third week of February 2010 production indices for most of the product range displayed a dramatic rise. Besides, in most cases there were rises on last year and against the background of declining catches that raised certain doubts regarding compliance of the official statistics with the real production results (at least, in the current season).

For instance, the weekly output of surimi jumped to 5000 tonnes, nearly 1000 tonnes up on last year (though the Japanese importers continued speaking about a fairly poor interest of the producers in surimi, especially for the Japanese market, and that the actual output was limited mostly to production of low grade items. weekly production of headed and gutted pollock again approximated 4000 tonnes, while in the second week of February 2010 it was limited to less than 1500 tonnes, 250% up on last year. The output of fishmeal practically reached 1500 tonnes, more than 25% up on last year.

As for pollock fillets, market players reported a serious and dramatic redistribution of activity in production of such main species as skinned boneless fillets PBO and deeply skinned fillets, as well as continuing rise of production of PBI fillets. In the third week of February 2010 seasonal production of PBI fillets amounted to nearly 700 tonnes, nearly twice up, and seasonal production of PBO fillets and deeply skinned fillets went down approximately by 22-26%, amounting to 6200 and 5600 tonnes correspondingly, but the total output of PBO fillets through the week doubled to ca. 3400 tonnes, while the weekly production of deeply skinned fillets declined by 25% to less than 1500 tonnes.

Market specialists say it is too early to speak about changes of trends, but taking into account that PBO fillet production in the closing week of February and first week of March 2010 demonstrated high rates, the US producers saw good prospects for sales of such fillets which were mostly shipped for export, while deeply skinned fillets were sold mostly on the domestic market of the USA. Probably, delayed issue of legal catch certificates required by the EU in Russia actually encouraged sales of Alaskan products on the EU markets, though quick weakening of Euro exchange rate could in no way help the situation.

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