Thailand had a decent summer crop and prices are currently stable as factories have closed production until September. Stocks of canned pineapple were relatively high at the end of May and June that caused the price of certain pack sizes to dip slightly as packers wanted to move out some of the inventory. The price of fresh pineapple went as low as 3 Baht per kilo due to sluggish demand. This is not a good situation for the farmers or producers. At these prices farmers look to alternative crops that will give them a higher value per acre of cultivated land. At this moment we do not know the effect of this low raw material cost on future crops, but we are expecting a fairly normal winter crop, with stable pricing. Flooding in certain regions of Thailand has put stress on many agricultural products but nothing has been reported at the moment of affecting the pineapple crop. This is something that we will be watching closely in the upcoming months.
All species of tuna have been in short supply the past 6 months or so with prices climbing steadily. It seems as though there is no relief in sight now as landings of raw material are erratic and are not enough to meet demand. Skipjack raw material prices had fallen in certain producing markets during the first 3 weeks of January, which most likely are for small fish that have a lower yield. The season for higher catches is typically around April; therefore no one is expecting relief in pricing until May or June at the earliest.
- Chunk Light has increased steadily over the past 6 months and is now reaching the highest price in recent memory.
- Yellowfin, which was significantly cheaper than Tongol, is now almost the same cost.
- Tongol, the lightest of ‘light’ tuna, has been especially short and pricing reflects the short supply.
- Albacore is now in very short supply, and the issue isn’t always the high cost, it is also only available in limited quantities. Albacore is a completely sellers’ market and right now the demand is higher than the supply.
Pouch tuna fish is a viable option to canned tuna fish. Although typically more expensive than canned due to labor intensity, now it can be comparably priced. The reason for this is that pouch tuna is only packed with flakes, which is not as costly as chunks. Pouch tuna is an excellent alternative to canned for manufacturers as there is no draining required and the waste is significantly less because an empty pouch takes up less room than an empty can. Pouched tuna comes in Light and Albacore.
For months the market has been advancing for all species of tuna; Bonito, Skipjack, Yellowfin, Tongol, and Albacore. The main reason the market has been firm is that fishing hasn’t been good since there is a lack of raw material. To further exacerbate the problem, some countries such as Indonesia, have instituted fishing restrictions to help the fish population regenerate. It is now illegal to have carriage vessels transport fish from the ‘fishing’ vessels back to land, so the fishing vessels stay out at sea. The smaller fishing vessels can’t store enough fish on their boats to keep returning to land. Also, the declining fish population doesn’t swim as close to shore as they used to so boats now have to travel 100+ miles further to fish.
For some other oceans, a fishing ban (ending October 31st) has been implemented. Of course it makes sense to restrict fishing to help the population redevelop. We all want there to be enough fish for generations to come, but balancing supply and demand with social responsibility is a difficult business.
Skipjack raw material, which is the high volume industry standard, has been rising steadily throughout the year to now hover around $2,100/ton in Bangkok with no relief in sight. Typically around this time of year, it is a busy buying season for importers because they are purchasing their first quarter requirements. Due to higher prices and the shortage of fish, buying has been slow. Unfortunately, there is little doubt that the tuna market for all species will remain strong through at least January and we can expect to see some shortages along the way.