Russia's buyers and sellers of pink salmon working out strategy for new trading season

July 16, 2008 12:01

Fairly small catches of pink salmon as per the first ten days of July 2008, comparably low early season prices, high railway tariffs and a shortage of the railway rolling-stock has so far discouraged traders in the Russian Far East from active contract making for supply of frozen salmon to Moscow, market players wrote in the forum section of http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/).

At the same time, Moscow wholesalers were also in no hurry to purchase pink salmon from the current year season, as ca. 98% of factories processed last year pink salmon. As per early July, the cold storage inventories of the last year pink salmon were still large enough for another three or four months of the factories' need in raw fish. Moreover, the end consumer will normally be unaware of difference between the fillets made from salmon harvested in 2007 and the salmon fillets from the new harvest. There is also an economic factor making the processors focus on the last year salmon. More specifically, the last year salmon has been traded from 35 to 45 RUB per kilo, while the fish from the fresh catch has been on offer from 60 to 65 RUB per kilo. (In late May 2008 traders in the Russian Far East would be happy to dispose of the carryover inventory of head-on gutted pink salmon for canning even at a price as low as 17-20 RUB per kilo so that they could get back at least some of their investments. For mince production they would even sell pinks at about 15 RUB per kilo.)

The high prices (from the buyer point of view) of newly harvested pink salmon in Moscow could be partly explained by the product's growing cost price forecasted to reach more than 40 RUB per kilo in August 2008, including in excess of 5.30 RUB per kilo as railway charges for delivery from the RFE to Moscow. As per early July the railway tariffs for delivery of a standard railway reefer section (ca.180 metric tons) to Moscow grew to 1.45 million RUB subject to departure from Vanino port and 1.25 million RUB from Vladivostok. Along with the above, the customer would also have to pay for delivery of the products from the railway car to the cold store.

As an example, in the beginning of July 2008 two sections with the first catch of silverside pink salmon (harvested in Khabarosk) were sent from the Russian Far East with the first one having the destination place in Kirov and the second one - in Khovrino. The sections were to arrive at their destinations on 19-21 July. The products they were carrying were produced by BATM Tumnin large trawler, SRTM Alexander middle trawler, Mys Elizavety and other vessels. The pink salmon was large at 1.4 kilos on the average and of fairly good quality. The sale contracts have been made while the goods have been in transit, and the product prices are expected to fluctuate around ca.65 RUB per kilo subject to orders from 10 tonnes ex-carriage.

The market players discussing the issue at the Russian-language forum on http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/) are forecasting that prices of the newly harvested pink salmon will remain high as in early July the fishermen already left the grounds of East Kamchatka and the abundant fishery in the West Kamchatka has not started yet. Therefore, the dynamics of prices of pink salmon directly depend on the fishery progressing.

Despite strong runs of pinks forecasted in the West Kamchatka in the current year, the July harvest of the species will not exceed 20% of the TAC, the scientists say.

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