Yellowfin tuna supply narrows
By James Wright, SeaFood Business senior editor
21 May, 2009 -
Certain tuna stocks have dwindled in recent years, especially bluefin tuna, prized for its eye-catching ruby red loins. The situation for yellowfin tuna, which many sushi chefs claim is the next-best thing, is not as dire but is being closely watched by regulators and environmentalists alike.
While supplies of the fish are down, they are fairly well matched with the current level of demand, according to one U.S. East Coast distributor, considering the difficult economic climate.
“We get a fair amount, all we need,” he said. “There’s always a few bumps in the road, but we can fill in the gaps with bigeye.”
Most yellowfin on the U.S. market is imported. “Vietnam, Trinidad — it’s mostly imports. All the good stuff is,” said the distributor, adding that supplies out of Hawaii are spotty and often pricier.
In mid-May, H&G yellowfin, 60 pounds and up, were trading for USD 7.50 to 8 a pound for No. 1 grade. No. 2-plus fish were tagged in the high-USD 5 range while No. 2s were priced in the mid- to high-USD 3 range.
Bluefin tuna, by comparison, was priced much higher at more than USD 12 a pound for top-quality fish.
Through March, U.S. imports of yellowfin tuna totaled 9.1 million pounds, a 22 percent decline from the first three months of 2008. Yellowfin imports for all of 2008 were down 16 percent from the previous year, to 43.5 million pounds. The Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam were the leading suppliers, yet imports for all three dipped last year.
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