EP 166 | AIRED 01/13/2014

Black Cod, Halibut, Sockeye: Price Increases and Extreme Product Shortages

Janaury 13th, 2014 - Welcome to The Tradex Foods "3-Minute Market Insight" This is Robert Reierson and here is the seafood news for Monday Janaury 13th, 2014 2014.

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---This week we will take a look at a few supply and market changes for Black cod, Sockeye salmon and Pacific Halibut.

---Firstly black cod supply is down considerably compared to the same time last year. 2012 processed Black cod inventories were being sold as late as June 2013.

Current inventories are expected to be depleted as early as February creating extreme product shortages for March and part of April. Approximately 75 percent of the Black Cod supply comes from Alaska with fishing March - November concurrent with the halibut fishery.

15 percent is from the Washington coast fishery which is April 1 - October 31st and 10 percent from the year round West Coast Trawl fishery operating on a quota system. A note to make on the trawl fishery is that a larger percentage of the harvest from this fishery is longline and pot caught product. harvesters are allowed to fish fixed gear for this trawl fishery.

Japanese demand has played a considerable role as their consumption has spiked recently. The Japan market is for 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 pound fish, with Japanese importers rarely taking larger fish. In response to recent shortages of these sizes Japanese importers are now taking 5-7 lb. fish. There is essentially no -7 lb.

product available but there are small amounts of 7+ lb.

fish available. Current pricing is just below $8.00 USD and stable with slight upward pressure.

---The Pacific halibut situation is similar to black cod. 2012 inventory was still in stock well into the 2013 season putting downward pressure on 2013 product.

Once the 2012 inventories were depleted prices rose sharply from the high $4.00 range to the mid $6.00 range for 10-20 lb.

fish. Over the past two weeks supply of halibut has tightened considerably on all sizes of halibut, most noticeably on 10-20 lb. and 20-40 lb. product.

Consequently prices for 10-20’s if you can find them have gone up to the mid $7.00 range. 40+ lb. fish prices have gone from the high $6.00 range the $8.00 range depending on specific size.

There are 4 size grades over 40 lbs; 40-60, 60-80, 80-100 and 100+.

Market activity has increased as supply news and price increases are realized by distributors. With the new season more than two months away it is best not to wait to secure product to carry you through to the end of April when new frozen products should become available.

The annual International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting will be held in Seattle from January 13th to 17th where the 2014 quota will be announced.

We will give you a summary of the meeting in a future episode.

Prices are expected to be strong early in the 2014 season as supply of 2013 processed halibut is very limited. ---And finally a quick note on sockeye.

Domestic demand for fillets has been steadily increasing in the past 8 weeks which has helped move large quantities of H&G product for twice frozen and re-freshing fillets.

Concurrently European demand has been rising and prices going up accordingly. Product that was in the mid $4.00 range 8 weeks ago is now close to $5.00 and limited in supply.

6-9 lb. fish are very short in the market and buyers should expect to $5.50-$5.75 range FOB Seattle. 4-6 lb.

fish are more available, but still not in large volume prices range between $4.60 and $5.00 depending on catch area and purchased quantity.

There are inventories of #2 or A grade sockeye at considerably lower prices than the premium re-fresh and smoking quality fish. Sales of #2 6-9 lb.

have been recently reported at $4.50 Europe which is roughly $4.30 FOB Seattle.

As prices for premium quality fish climb and supplies dwindle it is just a matter of time before the second grade product is put to the knife.

Pre-season estimates for sockeye in Alaska are for 4.3 million fish, up from the 3.5 million fish harvested in 2013. Although this looks like more fish for 2014 it may actually result in a lower harvest vs. last year.

Here is how I explain this… The 2013 pre-season forecast was 4.9 million fish, but actual harvest was 3.5 million fish. The 2014 pre-season forecast is actually is 4.3 million fish which is 600,000 fish lower than the 2013 pre-season forecast. This means we should actually expect fewer fish in 2014 than 2013 comparing pre-season forecasts.

Either way the data implies a conservative harvest of sockeye.


----Thanks for joining me for the Tradex Foods "3-Minute Market Insight" This is Rob Reierson - “BUY SMART” and “EAT MORE SEAFOOD”

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