Chinese processors ready to sell Russian pollock to Africa

June 14, 2011 12:36
Shipments of frozen Russian pollock to African market are expected to start growing really active as of mid-June 2011, though these shipments will be carried out not by Russian producers, but by the Chinese processors controlling the bulk of sales of Russian products (according to different estimates, such control ranges from 45% to 75%), according to Russian Fish Insider Report published by

Competent sources in the Russian fishing sector say that in the recent weeks the Chinese side began showing strong interest in purchases of w/r pollock and not headed gutted pollock which is a very common case. The need to compensate for the lack of frozen horse mackerel supply for the African market is a main reason behind the current activity of shipments, at the same time expects say that interest in possible sales of frozen pollock to Africa has emerged neither now nor accidentally.

In the recent years the African continent has been showing fairly high solvent demand and many producers of frozen fish, especially cheap and abundant, think it a good idea to use the emerging opportunities. Many market specialists agree that comparably strong catches of whitefish species make these opportunities (in terms of product supply) absolutely real, and after a considerable increase of cod and pollock quotas in Alaska the African market will become one of those markets which can start receiving products from the North Pacific fisheries showing especially strong growth rates (taking into account the rise from practically zero level the above forecast can evidently become true).

There is another opinion that the African market may turn out to be really important for the Russian pollock, which has not yet been certified by MSC or any other ecological organization. With the current trends on the markets of highly developed countries the ecological purity of fish products can soon become extremely needed if not mandatory, and the decision of European McDonald's chain (ca.7000 outlets in 38 states, ca.100 million orders last year) to switch only to MSC-certified fish can only prove that. Such practice can quickly spread on the US market as well. Therefore, there is a clear indication that the producers of the Russian pollock which catches remain strong should strongly activate search for the new markets.

Definite problems may emerge due to the fact that already now the African users (especially West African) are hardly ready to work with Russian products packed into craft-bags in normal mode, though the problem is not unresolvable (some suppliers have already returned to cartons to comply with the African standards). A more difficult problem is the disposition of the African users to work with large size raw material, those in this connection much will depend on prices.

Now the biggest interest in purchases of w/r Russian pollock is showed by companies working under the umbrella of the Chinese seafood giant Pacific Andes and it is no wonder taking into account its own fishing capacities in the Russian zone. However, evidently after the closure of the Okhotsk season this company also had few sources of raw markets left and it also had to search for the suppliers enjoying capture quotas for Alaska pollock in the Bering Sea.

The company's activity on the market of raw pollock could be partly explained by its poor results on the Chilean horse mackerel grounds (Southwest Pacific) in the recent weeks. All the above developments for Pacific Andes could be evidently attributed to its strongly increased interest in purchases of w/r pollock and other Chinese companies could probably follow the same way.

For some Russian producers the above situation can become really good, as prices for w/r pollock are offered at up to 1000 USD per tonne CAF China and comparison with prices for headed pollock even at 1500 USD per tonne looks in favour of w/r pollock and even with the minimum price of 850 USD per tonne of smaller pollock w/r profitability of sales may turn out to be fairly high.

Volumes of the Chinese purchases remain subject for discussion. Talks on ca. 1500-2000 tonnes are going on now, but obviously that will not be the end. However the volume of potential demand needs more accurate evaluation.

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