Saturday, July 14, 2012

Seafood Market Update 7/14/2012

 The bleak European economic situation combined with sluggish U.S. demand has kept the market soft and  from all indications it should stay that way over the next several months. We will keep you updated as the market and economy shifts. The Latin binomial or scientific name for swordfish is Xiphias gladius, a reference to a sword wielding gladiator.

There is now resistance to the sharply higher prices seen over the past few months and demand has slowed down. However, as previously mentioned there continues to be a shortage of raw materials on the supply side continued difficulties clearing product into the U.S.  When packed in a can albacore tuna is marketed as white tuna and yellowfin, skipjack, tongoll and bigeye must be marketed as light tuna

Mahi Mahi
 Although production in Taiwan is about normal FDA scrutiny has resulted in a lot of problems clearing product into the U.S. Inventory levels are adequate and prices steady with production in South America is still several months away. As in every year there is currently a conservation moratorium on mahi fishing in Ecuador putting further pressure on the fresh markets.

Chilean Seabass
 Seabass movement continues to be slow despite lower prices, as usual we'll keep you updated with the latest market info if anything else changes. Again demand for this species seems to be suffering from high prices and political incorrectness surrounding sustainability issues.

 The daily catch average has begun to creep up but still isn't getting ahead of mediocre demand. Prices remain high and staying fairly level . The catch as of the 5th of July at 11,024,953 lbs. in Alaska which is around 46% of the total quota of 24,003,027 lbs. Halibut, used to be called Haly-butte, which meant, flatfish to be eaten on holy days.

Next big season will be in September keeping prices firm on adequate supplies of smaller sizes and tightening supplies of larger sized fillets. Given the current economic situation in Europe there is a great deal of speculation concerning demand for new season fish. Talk about fertile; a Pacific Cod can produce up to 5.7 million eggs each year!

 The Bering Sea season is ongoing with product just now starting to hit Seattle. There has been good demand on adequate supply with pricing staying firm. We see no real change in the short term and will update if this changes. Pollock feed on krill, zooplankton and other crustaceans but as they age they have shown habits of cannibalism. 

Pacific Ocean Perch
 New quota's for 2012 are in and they are slightly higher in the Gulf than last year, by approximately 20%. Through the 4th of July there has been 42% of the quota caught. Did you know Northern Rockfish can reach an age of 70 years?

Flounder - Sole
 The harvest of yellowfin sole increased significantly as the boats gained access to the areas previously blocked by ice.  The YTD harvest is now nearly on par with last year. However as now we are in the middle of summer, the catch rates will decline as the fish disperse and the boats are often targeting other species like cod and arrowtooth flounder. Good supplies of small fillets coupled with weak global demand will keep prices steady through the rest of the year.  The supply of larger fillets, while never abundant, will be lower in the second half of 2102.

Keta (Chum) Salmon
Keta fisheries are now in full swing throughout Alaska  and the catch rates are tracking the pre-season forecasts so far. H&G Chum are being offered to China this year are at prices 10-15% lower than last year.  Demand from the China processors is not very strong given that many of them have significant carryover inventory from the 2011 season. Domestically produced fillets should see a similar decline.

Sockeye Salmon
 New season forecast is out for 2012 with a projection of 38,371,000 fish, which is a decrease from the actual preliminary 2011 harvest of 40,024,000 fish Catch through the 4th of July in Bristol Bay is 9,375,862 fish, which is about on target for projection. Latest reports indicate that Bristol Bay sockeye landings have slowed considerably. A fish by any other name would still smell like money... sockeye are also called reds, or blueback salmon.

Coho Salmon 
New season forecast is in for 2012, the projection is for 4,327,000 fish compared to a preliminary actual harvest of 3,444,000 fish in 2011. Catch as of the 6th of July is 28,000 fish. Did you know adult coho in saltwater are bright silver with small black spots on the back and the upper part of the tail, they are also commonly called silver salmon?
Atlantic Salmon
The outlook on Atlantic Salmon is looking good now and the market is improving in terms of price levels and supply. The ample supply of farmed fish also seems to be exerting downward pricing pressure on wild salmon species. Although they are called Atlantic salmon the majority of farmed salmon imported into the United States are raised in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile.

Pink Salmon
Directed pink salmon fishing has only just begun in a limited number of areas in Alaska and it is too soon to make any predictions on the size of the run.  As this is an 'even year', the harvest should be lower than last year, but pink salmon runs are notoriously volatile.  Typically the harvests in even years are less than odd numbered years. Catch through the 6th of July is 428,000 fish.

Prices still soft despite continued information regarding supply which is related to the financial problems with Vietnamese farms and processing plants.  In order for this industry to continue to flourish  a turnaround in prices will be necessary within the year.

King Crab 
The king crab market appears to be in a stalemate. While  U.S. demand for king crab continues to be weak with prices trending lower there is a serious disconnect between replacement costs that are higher than current market returns.  Colorful king crabs; there are 3 primary king crab species sold in the United States red (Paralithodes camtschaticus), blue (Paralithodes platypus) and brown which can also legally be called golden (Lithodes aequispinus). In years past blue king crab were often marketed under the red king crab moniker, however the FDA Seafood List makes it clear that only Paralithodes camtschaticus may be marketed as red king crab and Paralithodes platypus must be calledblue king crab or simply king crab.

Snow Crab
After two extensions the Snow crab season in Alaska is finally over, through the 2nd of July 79,942,909 lbs. of the 80,000,000+ lb quota has been caught or approximately 99.9%  of 2012 season.  Fishing in Canada has been good with 92% of the 52,491 MT Newfoundland Quota caught so far. Pricing on both origins has stabilized a bit within a fairly narrow range. Did you know that males are the only crab allowed to be harvested and can be distinguished by a thinner tail flap?

Dungeness Crab
Dungeness availability has been minimal with high pricing, the Alaskan seasons are now open but fishing effort is typically not enough to do more than take the edge off demand. Look for pricing to stay firm for the near term. Did you know Dungeness have four pairs of walking legs and a pair of claws? Dungeness typically have a purplish brown color until cooked, when they turn the orange/red color you see in whole cook or section form.

New production has started in Chile but most product is committed prior to production. According to the FDA another acceptable, although not terribly aesthetic name for langostinos are squat lobsters.

While still high, prices seem to have been easing since the March 1 opening. In recent years a weak dollar has prompted an increase in exports and higher prices in the U.S.   Again it will be interesting to see  how the economic crisis in Europe will be affecting the seafood markets here in the U.S. France has been a large export market for domestic scallops. There are currently 312 full time and 28 part time vessels plying the waters off the Eastern Seaboard and 34 allowable days at sea to fish.

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