Skipjack prices on the decline
By James Wright, SeaFood Business senior editor
12 February, 2009 -
The global economic downturn provided a positive, albeit brief, development for exporters of canned tuna, a staple for cost-conscious consumers. Raw material prices for skipjack tuna, after spiking last summer to nearly USD 2,000 per metric ton, tumbled more than 20 percent by December, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
Supplies appeared to be stable, but economy-wary buyers remained cautious as the New Year approached; further price declines are not anticipated.
Thai tuna canners took advantage of the bargains, upping frozen tuna imports by 16 percent through last September, compared to the first nine months of 2007. Thailand’s canned tuna exports increased by 33 percent to 420,000 metric tons over the corresponding period.
The United States is far and away Thailand’s biggest market for canned tuna, accounting for close to 20 percent of Thailand’s exports (this is also due partly to heavy tariffs placed on Thai tuna by the European Union). U.S. canned tuna imports increased by about one-third through the first nine months of 2008. However, recent reports showed that Thailand’s inventories were full due to waning demand.
U.S. imports of fresh and frozen skipjack tuna fell by 55 percent and 12 percent, respectively, through November, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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