Skipjack prices continue to increase, with many suppliers of raw fish complaining that the world demand is exceeding the overall supply. The January catch was smaller than usual, exacerbating the situation, and most reports seem to point to steady price increases in the coming months. According to a popular trade journal, costs of raw materials are significantly higher per ton this month than they were in January of 2010. Typically January-prices of raw fish are the lowest of the year, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in 2011.
Other factors are influencing the high cost as well, including the strength of the Thai Baht against the relatively weak US Dollar, and high ocean freight rates. Move carefully when purchasing this product. Though the prices might seem high now, we don’t anticipate costs softening until after the peak-buying season of May-July.
The Spanish winter artichoke crop has been severely damaged by cold weather. With sub-zero temperatures reported in the main growing regions over Christmas, some reports have put the loss of product at 100,000 tons. This is a significant reduction to raw-material stocks, and represents a point of concern for future prices. We can expect little relief from the high artichoke prices that have been seen here in the US, and most indicators point to increases in the coming months. South American crop, mostly from Peru, is at least 6 months off, and too far out to make any projections. The only available source to fill the pipeline for the first half of 2011 will be Spain and pricing will be very firm.
The harvest of Mushrooms has been delayed by several weeks in the main growing areas of China due to cold weather. We’re entering the peak packing time now, so expect to see updated pricing/availability once the harvest kicks into full gear. Raw material prices seem to have settled at marginally higher levels – we’re looking at potential $3/$4 increases on the new pack 6/68oz product.
Be aware of what’s in your can! We are hearing some rumors that certain packers mix cheaper varieties, like Oyster and Baling mushrooms (a Chinese variety) with the Champignon mushrooms that are typically packed for the US market. These mushrooms are much larger than the Champignons, but when sliced into pieces and stems it’s difficult to tell the difference – the flavor and color are very similar. You want to sell a quality product, however, and should be wary of any cases of mushrooms priced significantly less than the competition – it’s probable that they are mixing mushroom varieties.
Due to a shortage of raw materials, the price of Coconut products out of Thailand continues to rise at an alarming rate.
Many packers are backlogged with orders for 5-6 months out, and are stating that they are not accepting Purchase Orders for new business. A significant shortage of coconut milk can be expected on the West Coast – one packer who normally ships 40 Full Container Loads (FCL’s) per month to California has reported that they only shipped 10 FCL’s in December, and will most likely have less than 5 FCL’s to ship in January.
With this knowledge in mind, we are stocking up on Coconut products to ensure a steady supply of product to our regular customers. Expect to see potential price increases in the near future, and keep an eye on your own inventory – spikes in usage might occur as people scramble for product. We will continue to update our customers as the situation develops.