EP 173 | AIRED 03/03/2014

Prepare for Largest Year Class Sockeye Return, Global Sockeye Market Conditions

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

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---Processors are already preparing for the 2014 British Columbia Sockeye fishery.

Many of you will recall the record Sockeye run of 2010. Pre-season forecasts for 2010 were 11 million fish with an actual return of 34.5 million fish, the largest return in close to 100 years.

Processors were completely unprepared for the catch and struggled to process and freeze the product. Shortages of ice and labour, production and freezer space all hampered production efforts.

Processors will not be unprepared this year as early preparation has already begun. Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans determine the midpoint forecast at 23 million fish.

The midpoint forecast is determined using the most optimistic and least likely run of 72.5 million fish and the least optimistic forecast of 7.3 million fish.

This forecast is a cumulative projection which includes Barclay Sound, The Nass and Skeena rivers and the Fraser river as the major runs.

There are 4 Sockeye cycles for the Fraser river, the 2014 is part of the largest of the 4 Sockeye cycles. Strong returns in previous years will contribute to strong returns.

The Skeena river is also projecting strong returns according to DFO as a large return of jack or immature Sockeye returned in 2013 from the Babine tributary system.

The Nass river is not expecting strong returns as low escapements in past years will undoubtedly affect the return.

Projections should be taken cautiously as there is a high level of unpredictability with Canadian fisheries as conservation efforts often limit fishing.

---Market conditions for Sockeye are mixed with a wide variety of product grades still unsold from the 2013 Alaskan and Russian fishery.

The majority of unsold inventory is for #2 grade and lower grade product which are trading from the mid to high three dollar range depending on size.

#1 grade product is more limited, with most of the inventory in the hands of secondary processors and trading companies.

Premium grade products are trading in the mid to high four dollar range, primarily in the European market which has slowed considerably in the past 6 weeks.

Russian fish is primarily being marketed as portions and fillets, both of which have seen strengthening.

Portions cut from Russian Sockeye are trading in volume from the high 7 to low 8 dollar level, while fillets also cut from Russian fish are now passing the $7.75 mark US.

---It will be a dynamic year with Canada, Russia and the United States battling for market share. The two biggest factors to watch will be fresh sales and the Japanese market.

Shortages of farmed fish from Chile destined for Japan spiked demand for Sockeye late in 2013.

If farmed salmon shortages persist Japanese demand will be a considerable factor. The second factor to watch is the fresh market.

A strong push into the fresh market by Canadian and US packers will create shortages in frozen markets.

We will be monitoring the many contributing elements over the coming weeks and report back as the picture becomes more clear.


---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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