Overview of seafood exports from the Russian Far East in the first nine months of 2008. Part 1.

November 18, 2008 16:33

In September 2008 Russia's export of frozen salmon to Japan and China was much more active than last year, which was a remarkable development against the background of declining catches, according to the overview prepared by analysts of http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/) based on Japanese and Russian sources.

According to the estimated data on seafood import into these countries, the halibut shipments went up, while the shipments of flounder went down. Along with the above developments, there was also a considerable decrease of shipments of Russian pollock and cod. Those were the only general trends in the dynamics of the Japanese and Chinese import of Russian seafood with imports of frozen fish roes to China growing on last year versus to the product's lower shipments to Japan. Besides, the Japanese market received more frozen crabs, while the shipments of the product to China decreased again.


In September 2008 the shipments of frozen sockeye of the Russian origin to the Japanese market were less active than in August 2008, when the traders imported more than 5700 tonnes, however the import volume of ca.4500 metric tons exceeded the last year result by 12%. Thanks to the above development the total import to Japan through the first nine months of the year considerably reduced the lag on the last year result and amounted to 17,350 tonnes by the end of September, merely 2.5% down on late September 2007. The average price of Russia's salmon import to Japan went down by 4% as compared to August and amounted to a bit below 500 Yen per kilo CIF, however as compared to the previous year the price remained practically non-changed. Taking into account a stronger rate of Yen to USD as compared to last year the above development can speak about a strong growth of the average import price in USD which should please the Russian producers and suppliers.

According to the official information, import of the Russian sockeye to China in September 2008 amounted to only 160 tonnes, but even this volume has been nearly 120% up on last year. Nevertheless, the total volume of shipments directly from the Russian sources through the period since the start of the year did not reach even 300 tonnes, more than 70% down on the corresponding result of last year. The average import price in September amounted to only 2.00 USD per kilo CIF versus 19.00 USD per kilo last year, though the latter indication caused very many doubts, because it was in absolutely no keeping with the price indications of the Chinese import and exceeded them several times.

The Chinese import of other Pacific salmon species, mostly pink salmon, chum salmon and coho salmon, in September 2008 got much brisker and reached 9500 tonnes, nearly 30% or more than 2000 tonnes up on last year. Taking into account lean year for pink salmon fishery, the above result may be taken as recovery, at least partial, of interest of the Chinese processors in the Russian raw material, which dramatically decreased in 2007 under very favourable conditions for pink salmon and chum salmon purchases in Alaska.

The total volume of the Chinese import of these Russian salmon species through the first nine months of the current year reached the level of 15,500 tonnes, nearly 3% up on last year, but nearly 8000 tonnes or one third down which could hardly satisfy the Russian producers who could not completely rely on domestic sales. The average import price both in September and in the first nine months of the year did not differ much from the last year (more specifically, in September 2008 it amounted to 2.00 USD per kilo, and in the first nine months of the year it averaged 1.90 USD per kilo).

The Japanese import of chum salmon and coho salmon of the Russian origin was also developing in September much more actively than in 2007, but the volumes remained not very large. Import of coho salmon amounted to ca.260 tonnes, growing nearly 5.5 times on September 2008, while as compared to August 2008 the shipments only doubled. At the same time, import of coho in the first nine months of the year went down by 25% to less than 400 tonnes. The average import price in September was higher than the last year indication nearly by 19% and amounted to ca.325 Yen per kilo. However, through the period the average price amounted to only 230 Yen per kilo, or practically 100 Yen per kilo down on the last year result. Import of the Russian chum salmon in September amounted to ca.700 tonnes, 17% up on last tear. Since the beginning of the year its shipments to the Japanese market grew by 8% to 2600 tonnes, but the average import price was limited to 300 Yen per kilo, some 15% down on the corresponding result of 2007.

Pollock roe

In September 2008 importation of frozen pollock roe of the Russian origin to Japan kept falling, which was in line with the typical development of seasonal shipments. The rates of the product's import to the South Korea were also slow, and against such background dramatic activation of import to China could not but attract attention of the market specialists. Some of them think that in September the total growth of the Chinese import of frozen roe was probably driven by acceleration of salmon roe shipments (the official data for the Chinese import does not specify shipments as to species), but most of them still think that in September 2008 the traders shipped via the Chinese customs frozen pollock roe, which was kept in customs coldstores in the South Korea and Japan.

The volume of the Japanese import in September 2008 decreased below 400 tonnes, 14% down on last year, but since the start of the year import of the Russian products to Japan grew by 67.5%. The annual volume of import in 2007 was exceeded by more than 55%, which explicitly meant that the Japanese importers and users were resuming their strategy of working with the Russian raw material versus the previously practiced usage of capacities of the Chinese processors.

Import to China in September 2008 showed a dramatic boost with the total volume of the Russian products cleared at customs through the month exceeding 1300 tonnes, which made more than 40% of the total volume of import in the first nine months of the year. The total volume shipped to the countries from July to September 2008 exceeded 2000 tonnes, 43% up on last year. However, the total volume of shipments from the beginning of the year amounted to only 3100 tonnes versus nearly 6500 tonnes in 2007. Thus, import went more than twice down (by 53% namely), therefore even the dramatic boost of the import trade activity in September 2008 did not reverse the situation. More specifically, in 2008, regardless of the trend observed in the previous years, the Japanese importers and users have been showing strong preference for building up the inventories of the Russian pollock roe in Japan proper.

In September 2008 import of the Russian pollock roe to the South Korea, just like to Japan, continued decreasing and amounted to only 150 tonnes, nearly 25% down on August 2008 and approximately on a par with corresponding result of last year. However, the total import of the Russian pollock roe shipped to the South Korean market since the start of the year by the end of September 2008 amounted to only 2700 tonnes, 23% down on 2007. Growth of prices of the Russian products at auctions in Busan and a reduction of the share of the low grade roe in the total volume of its supply considerably limited the capability of the South Korean buyers thus causing a decrease of import to the South Korea.

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