EP 214 | AIRED 12/29/2014

Year End Seafood Wrap-Up: Volatile & Unpredictable

December 29th, 2014 Immense buyer opportunities presented themselves because of inventory issues with raw materials in 2014...

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--- Looking back at 2014 we can summarize the seafood market in a few words: volatile and unpredictable.

Immense buyer opportunities presented themselves because of inventory issues with raw materials.

The rising prices of raw materials across a spectrum of species led suppliers into a pricing stalemate.

We saw this happen with both Cod and Pollock.

Price spikes in raw materials were not reciprocal to the end market; prices remained steady and customers are not willing to accept any price hikes.

Pricing conjecture for next year is nearly impossible due to the market volatility seen in 2014.

Now let's take a look at what happened this year for a few species and look forward for the New Year.

--- Atlantic Cod catching begins at the end of January, and suppliers are saying that raw material will not continue to rise above the very high level it’s currently at.

In Europe, the strongest market for Atlantic Cod, the market is weak.

Buyers are chasing cheap prices as much as they can and consequently are purchasing product between 80-90 percent net weight, some even as low as 70 percent.

Pacific Cod raw material price has been on the rise since the summer.

The problem is that value-added Pacific Cod fillets and loins have been doing the opposite of raw materials, and have been going down to low levels with no signs of abating.

We have certainly seen price volatility in the Cod market this year, and we will have to wait until January for a clearer outlook.

Now over to Kyla.

--- Moving over to Pollock, we recently reported volatility in the single-frozen Alaska Pollock market in regards to price increases and low inventories.

More will be known in January once the grounds prices to the fishermen are established and H&G prices are set.

Looking ahead to next year for the twice-frozen Pollock market, buyers should prepare for price increases on these products too.

Russian boats are setting prices on raw materials that are nearly 17 percent over last year’s prices CFR China.

Some are speculating that the price pressure stems from the recent sanctions against Russia by the EU and USA.

As most Pollock products in these markets are produced from Russian Pollock, this will have strong market implications.

If Russia chooses against supplying Pollock to the Chinese plants to process and export to these markets, we will see extreme product shortages. Again, we will know better when the catching starts.

So what is taking Pollock's place? It's Basa. Pollock will continue to struggle due to Basa taking over that lower-priced seafood protein market.

As well, with the infiltration of sub-standard, over-soaked, and under-weight Pollock fillets, consumers and chefs of North America are watching what they are buying.

There has been a noticeable decline of food service Pollock and an increase of Basa food service business.

Back to you Rob.

--- Thanks Kyla. On to Salmon now.

In October, the market price of Russian chums went as high as $4200 / MT, which was about 16 percent higher than prices we are typically used to seeing.

There were extremely low Chum inventories in Alaska, only 50 percent of the 19.8 million forecasted catch was harvested.

Chinese processors sought after large volumes of Hokkaido chums as a substitute for the poor season in Alaska on this product.

For 2015, Chinese suppliers are projecting that Chum pricing will be stable until next July, before the new season starts.

Sockeye out of Bristol Bay was of note this year, with a strong run reaching 40.6 million fish, 17 percent above the 20-year average.

Three out of five Salmon species harvest in Alaska this year actually exceeded their forecasted amount.

--- In regards to Black Cod, there was strong demand this past 2014 season with high prices alongside.

Although the Alaskan and West Coast quotas were nearly all caught and despite the strong pricing, inventories on hand are now almost completely depleted. As usual, Japan was the predominant market this year for Black Cod.

some good news for the upcoming 2015 season is that the Alaskan quotas will increase by about half a percent and the West Coast TAC will be increased by about 10 percent.

--- Lastly, I would like to say thank you to all of our customers for watching our weekly updates. Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year.


---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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