Overview of key markets for fish products from Russian and American Pacific fisheries as per mid-June 2010
As per mid-June 2010 the Pacific seafood market players have already focused on salmon fisheries in the Russian Far East (RFE) and in Alaska where the season's main phases have been approaching, according to the overview prepared by analysts of http://www.megafishnet.com/ based on Japanese, Russian and American sources.
In the RFE high activity has been so far in the driftnet marine fisheries conducted by the Russian and Japanese boats with mixed reports from the grounds. Meanwhile the Alaskan fishery has been more stable with good runs of chum salmon.
Sockeye and Chum Salmon
In the first ten days of June salmon landings from the Russian EEZ's driftnet fishery in Japan were reportedly made only by small boats but at the beginning of the second decade middle boats (as classified by the Japanese) operating east of Kamchatka also made landings in the ports of the Eastern Pacific coast of Hokkaido.
The market players have immediately noticed that the starting sockeye prices are shaping at a very high level as the middle boats have been landing mostly sockeye salmon rather than chums typical for the small class vessels which have been fishing in the areas close to the ports of landing along the Kuriles.
The salted sockeye prices from the first discharged consignment of a middle Japanese boat at the landing port of Hanasaki reportedly shaped near 2000 Yen/kg for the highest AB grade and close to 1500 Yen/kg for the middle P grade.
Meanwhile the prices for the salted chum salmon also happened to be relatively high in the range of 550-700 Yen per kg for the grades of AB and P to result into positive assessment of the landing, more so that the entire sockeye consignment was purchased by one buyer.
However later the fishery improved (the Russians also coming into play) and the second series of landings closer to mid-June was completed with a 25-30% price drop for the sockeye and 10-15% for chum down to 1400-1460 Yen per kg and 520-590 Yen per kilo, respectively.
In the Alaska salmon fisheries the sockeye harvest did not reach even 450 thousand fish by mid-June getting nearly halved as compared to the last season as the poor spawning runs have been observed practically in all main salmon fishing areas where the season started (Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak Island and the Southern Alaska).
Moreover, the poor runs in the South of Alaska may be a bad omen for the prospects of salmon fishery in the Bristol Bay.
The thing is that this area is known as a sort of anti-room of the Bristol Bay and the area's sockeye are sometimes compared with fish harvested on the sea runs to Kamchatka.
It is believed that the main reason behind the poor runs has to do with low temperatures and the deteriorating size composition is of special concern. In the South Alaska some 30-40% of the runs are being represented by sockeye specimens corresponding to 2-4 pound market size of H/G fish.
Table 1. Japanese imports of frozen salmon from Russia, USA and Chile in 2009-2010.
Note: 1) Prices on CIF basis 2) The figures for shipments of fillets from Chile do not include the quantities cleared by the Customs as other fillets.
Meanwhile the chum salmon runs, especially in the Prince William Sound, have been quite a success with about 1.5 million fish taken by mid-June to result into 4500-4700 tonnes landed or eight times more than last year. However the sizes diminished mostly to 3-3.2 kilo.
According to Japanese importers, in the sales strategy the American producers have mostly concentrated on the US fresh fish market where salmon supply has been growing short because of the poor sockeye runs and the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The demand for fresh salmon has especially increased on the East Coast causing higher prices and leading to a remaking of the seasonal sales plans to disadvantage the frozen product sales to China.
In this perspective it is interesting to look at the Chinese frozen salmon imports in January-April 2009-2010 as in the table below. In fact, considerable declines have been observed both for Pacific salmon from USA and Russia.
The Chinese have increased frozen salmon imports (fall chum) only from Japan but this growth has completely offset the declines from the other sources. As to April 2010 inclusive more than 14000 tonnes of frozen chum were imported (up 60% on 2009) to help maintain the overall imports at around 20 000 tonnes as last year. The result was achieved despite the fact that in 2009 the Chinese imports of frozen Pacific salmon for the year doubled reaching 180 thousand tonnes less sockeye shipments and the Chinese processors must still have a fairly large carry-over inventory. See more details in table 2.
Note: 1) Average import prices on CIF basis 2) the data in TOTAL include shipments from Canada, Chile and other sources
The sales from the new season have so far consisted of shipments of Alaska-produced whole salted roes of sockeye and chum salmon to the Japanese market. However it is reported that the shipments have been limited due to poor sockeye runs while there was little interest to chum salmon roe.
According to the official US export figures, the shipments of frozen production from the 2009 season (incl. whole and sieved roes) have continued at least until May but the goods mostly went to Europe and Russia rather than to Japan despite the rising import volumes.
After the peak in January the next three months saw stabilization but in January-April on the whole there was a 140% leap in year-on-year terms to nearly 700 tonnes. Meanwhile the average FAS price came down by 20% from US$16 per kilo to US$13/kg.
Note: Average export price, FAS basis
In 2010 the shipments to the Netherlands were irregular with some small breaks and to April the volume surged to about 230 tonnes of the 2009 season product at an average price of US$16/kg versus very little during the same period last year.
The sales to Russia jumped by 180% to 160 tonnes but the average price got halved to USD9/kg.
The US export to Ukraine rose from zero to more than 100 tonnes at a more attractive average price of US$10.6 per kilo.
The average export price to Japan declined by a third to less than USD12 per kilo versus a contracting volume of 55 tonnes (down more than 60%).
The export of salted salmon roe was insignificant at 20 tonnes at the end of April - a half of the last year volume for the period with no direct shipments to Japan.
Alaska Pollock fillets
The total American export shipments of Alaska Pollock fillets in January-April 2010 hit about 31500 tonnes displaying a rise of 7% or 2000 tonnes on the same period last year.
The total shipments to the EU came down by 8% amounting to only 18700 tonnes.
Meanwhile the total APO fillet exports to China in January-April 2010 increased by more than 20% hitting 6800 tonnes - nearly a quarter more than the sales to the Netherlands known as the main buyer of Alaska Pollock fillets in Europe.
However China was still much behind Germany who came indisputably the first importing nearly 12000 tonnes of APO fillets from USA to April 2010 (ca. 500 tonnes up on the same period in 2009).
Still, it is worth noting that the combined sales of APO fillets from Alaska to China and South Korea in January-April 2010 reached 11500 tonnes, a figure very close to the German result.
In April 2010 the overall activity of American APO roe exports from A season 2010 considerably declined as compared to March with the exports in April coming down by some 25% on March to ca. 3300 tonnes.
However the average export price increased by 5% year-on-year to US$10 per kilo, FAS basis.
To April 2010 the volume of direct shipment of US-produced APO roe to Japan went below 4300 tonnes declining by 47% year-on-year while the shipment to South Korea came down by 22% to less than 4500 tonnes.
On the whole, the US exports of APO roe for the period were down by 37% to 8800 tonnes. The reductions are presumably an indication of strong delays in the development of roe pollock fishery in Alaska this year.