Tuna rides supply-and-demand roller coaster
With supply exceeding demand in the short term, yellowfin tuna importers are looking for creative ways to start reducing inventories. A shortage of product in 2012 that resulted in a flurry of orders to build tuna inventories has left some importers with excess at a time when demand has waned.
Yellowfin processors in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines ramped up efforts at a time when contracts with higher prices were in the market, sids Paige Tilghman, executive VP for Twin Tails Seafood Corp. in Miami. As supply grew and prices fell, those with contracts started to feel the pinch, he said.
At the same time, higher prices pushed foodservice operators and other buyers to look at alternatives such as mahimahi or even pangasius, he added.
“Demand hasn’t come back to where it was in 2011,” said Tilghman. “So now it’s the job of sales departments and distributors to get them (buyers) to see it can be a profitable product.”
Jon Rezny, VP-purchasing for Chicago-based Fortune Fish & Gourmet, agrees it has become a buyer’s market because “people got a little zealous with their inventories.” While it’s good from a buyer’s perspective to see some bargains, Rezny doesn’t like to see anyone lose money or put themselves in a financially precarious position.
Like Tilghman, Rezny said when yellowfin prices were high a year or so ago, restaurant and country club buyers began changing their menus, substituting mahimahi, swordfish and halibut for tuna, or at least trading yellowfin for albacore.
While there are certain items, such as shrimp, that customers won’t take off their menus, tuna doesn’t have that same level of popularity, said Rezny.