Prices of Japanese purchases of red king crab from Alaska up again

October 16, 2020 10:18

The new season of red king crab fishery in Bristol Bay in Western Alaska was opened, as usual, on October 15, but even before the start of the season, the basic conditions for sales of the new catch for the Japanese market were determined.

According to reports in Japanese specialized sources, during the negotiations on these conditions, both leading American manufacturers and major Japanese importers recognized the fact that they have to bear additional costs for their operations this season, which means that the price level should be raised. Buyers cannot be happy with this, but, since the capture quotas were reduced, the prospects for lower production and shorter supply cut off any potential resistance of the buyers.

As for the specific terms of delivery to the Japanese market, it is reported that the base price for grade 1 products for boiled and frozen sections in brine in large containers (45-pound boxes) for the current season is set at US$22.00 per pound (more than US$48.45 per kg) CAF Japan. Compared to the previous season, the price level went up by only 3%, a rather modest increase and a compromise solution against the background of the current fishery situation and market conditions. Whole crabs appreciated by almost 8% to US$23.75 per pound (more than US$52.30 per kg), but the demand for such products is quite specific and narrow, so even such a price increase should not have a noticable impact on the overall picture of supplies of Alaskan products to the Japanese market.

However, despite a very modest increase in the basic price level, the main users in Japan will have to realise that prices from the importers will again grow extremely high. According to preliminary estimates, major importers can set their offer prices on the Japanese market at 5750-5800 yen/kg, which is approximately US$54.50-55.00/kg at the current exchange rate. At the same time, when the TAC for red king crab fishery in Bristol Bay was cut by another 30% and limited to only 1.2 thousand tonnes, and the demand from the American market remains strong (judging by data from imports to the United States), even this level of prices on the Japanese market can hardly be perceived as excessively high.

According to some estimates, the total volume of deliveries of new season products to Japan may be limited to only 200 tonnes (mainly due to companies affiliated with the Japanese market). This is approximately one and a half times less than last season's deliveries, but with an overall estimate of commodity production in the region of less than 800 tonens, Japan's market share looks quite understandable and acceptable.

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