Russian exports of pollock, sockeye, crabs, herring, flatfish and sea urchins from the Far East in first five months of 2008. Part 1.

July 15, 2008 16:26

In the first five months of 2008 the Russian Far East export trade in seafood concentrated on pollock, salmons, flatfish, crabs and other products, according to the overview prepared by analysts of ( based on Japanese and Russian sources.


By the start of the fixed seine salmon fishery, the Chinese frozen salmon imports have been displaying fairly optimistic indications for further development. The total volume of shipments of frozen sockeye from all the sources to China since the start of the year through to the beginning of summer reached 2500 tonnes, while in the previous two years the imports were much smaller at 2000 tonnes in the same period of the year. With a 47% growth of imports, China is a potentially important market both for the US and the Russian producers. In May 2008 the Chinese import of other Pacific salmon species from Russia exceeded import of sockeye nearly 10-fold and amounted to 2300 tonnes with an 80% rise on last year, and the growth could be mostly attributed to Russian shipments rising nearly 4.5-fold and exceeding 1100 tonnes. Thanks to the above, the total volume of Russian exports of salmon species, mostly pinks and chums, to China since the start of the year exceeded the last year shipments by more than 12% and amounted to ca.2700 tonnes. The average prices of imported salmon in May were reported at 2 USD per kilo CIF, while the average price from the beginning of the year amounted to 1.90 USD per kilo versus more than 2.30 USD per kilo in 2007.

Alaska pollock

The Chinese market of frozen Alaska pollock and cod family species is of special importance for the Russian fishermen, and increased activity of the Chinese importers was regarded a fairly favourable factor for the Russian side. In May 2008 the Chinese importers purchased more than 27,000 tonnes of mostly H&G Alaska pollock, or 50% up on the corresponding result of last year, while the total volume exported from Russia to China since the start of the year reached 170,000 tonnes by the end of May, up from 165,000 tonnes in 2007. At the same time, the average prices of the Russian pollock exports in the first five months of the year 2008 slightly decreased to 1.65 USD per kilo, or less than 5% down on 2007.

Flounders and halibuts

In the meantime, Russia's shipments of flounders and halibuts to China in May 2008 were progressing less quickly than in the same month of 2007. In May 2008 the Russian exporters shipped only 50 tonnes of halibuts, or 805 tonnes down on May 2007, while shipments of flounders went down by nearly 80% and amounted to merely 600 tonnes. Only increased average prices from less than 1.20 USD per kilo to approximately 1.35 USD per kilo made the situation with the Russian exports of flounder to China less pessimistic. In January-May 2008 the Chinese import of Russian flounder came down nearly by 9000 tonnes to 3500 tonnes, while shipments of white and black halibuts grew more than twice to 1000 tonnes.


In May Russian exporters were shipping frozen squid and crab to China more actively as compared to May 2007. The Chinese import of squid amounted to nearly 700 tonnes, while in 2007 not even one tonne of squid was cleared at customs. Imports of Russian crabs amounted to ca. 600 tonnes, 17.5% up on last year. However, while the share of the Russian products in the total volume of China's frozen squid imports was fairly small (amounting to only 2.5% in May 2008), the contribution of the Russian produce in the Chinese crab importation was much larger at ca.30%. At the same time, the growth of Russia's crab shipments in May 2008 did not produce a large effect onto the general situation, which was observed in the first half of the year due to stricter crab fishery management in Russia. More specifically, in January-May 2008 Russia's officially registered exports of crabs to China totaled less than 2400 tonnes, practically 60% down on the same period last year. The Japanese specialists say that Russian exporters reduced shipments of red king crab and blue king crab to the lowest level, while in 2007 the two species dominated in the nation's crab export to China.


The situation with the Russian shipments of crabs to Japan was also characterized by reduced volumes, but it differed for increased prices. In May 2008 the Japanese import of Russian crabs amounted to a little more than 2100 tonnes (less crab meat), 400 tonnes or 16% down on last year. As for the species, the Japanese importers reduced their purchases of red king crab and blue king crab by 37% to less than 600 tonnes, while the average prices grew by 50% to 1900 Yen per kilo. The Japanese imports of frozen snow crabs dwindled by no more than 5% to approximately 1500 tonnes, while the average prices practically did not rise and remained at 1100 Yen per kilo. In the meantime, the Japanese import of hairy crab grew nearly 4-fold, but amounted to 15 tonnes only, while the average prices jumped by 60% to 1100 Yen per kilo. In the first five months of the year 2008 the total export of Russian red king crabs to Japan also decreased by 37% to 3000 tonnes, while the Japanese import of Russian snow crab dropped nearly by 10% to less than 2900 tonnes and only shipments of frozen hairy crab grew 5.5-fold, but they were limited to less than 35 tonnes.

In May 2008 Russia's shipments of live crabs to Japan were progressing much brisker than in April 2008 and the Japanese specialists even thought that the stricter fishery management measures turned out to be not very efficient. The total volume of all the crab species in May 2008 amounted to ca.3800 tonnes, only several dozens of tons down on May 2007, with the largest decrease reported for live snow crab, mostly opilio, import of which amounted to ca.2850 tonnes, 15% down on 2007. The Japanese import of hairy crab went down by 7% to less than 160 tonnes, while shipments of live red king crab and other king crabs jumped 2.5 times to nearly 800 tonnes. Japan's total import of live king crab harvested by the Russian fleets in the first five months of the year 2008 amounted to 1400 tonnes, less than 100 tonnes down on the corresponding result of 2007, while the nation's import of live snow crab grew by the same 100 tonnes to 7200 tonnes. The grand total volume of Russia's exports of live crabs amounted to ca.9050 tonnes, only 130 tonnes down on January-May 2007.

The average prices of imported live red king crab and blue king crab as per late May amounted to ca.655 Yen per kilo, going down on 11.5% as compared to 2007. The average prices of live snow crab exported from Russia to Japan amounted to a little more than 405 Yen per kilo, 7.3% down on 2007, while the prices of live hairy crab were reported at ca. 710 Yen per kilo, 11.6% down on 2007.

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