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This month’s opportunities:
- Good availability and stable prices expected on majority of farmed species, including Sea Bass.
- Increased fishing quotas for some valuable species including Whiting, a great alternative to Cod.
- New supply of rope grown Mussels from the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
- We recommend Swordfish with stable pricing throughout the month.
This month’s risks:
- Weaker GBP will continue impacting prices of imported fish & seafood.
- Reduction in Cod and Haddock quotas are likely to keep prices high.
- Salmon pricing and availability is a continuing risk and it is not clear when this situation will improve; we advise to consider Sea Trout as an alternative.
Salmon: January should see more Scottish fish on the market as post-Christmas demand drops. The majority of farming companies in Scotland are however still not expecting to see any major improvements in availability until Easter. The Amoebic Gill Disease (AGD) and lice problems that hit Salmon farms in summer and autumn have taken their toll on stocks at sea. The prices just prior to Christmas were as high as at anytime in 2016 and the popular size of 3-6kg fish was nearly double the price in December 2015.
As with Scotland, it is expected that Salmon volumes available from Norway for Q1 will be considerably down on 2016. In weeks 44 - 47 inclusive, the total weekly volumes harvested show a 7.9% reduction from 2015 to 2016. There are no expectations for Salmon prices to ease any time soon.
Cod & Haddock: The first two weeks of the month will see lower landings as both Icelandic and Norwegian fishermen gradually go back to sea after the holiday. Prices will remain higher than usual also due to the GBP being weak against the Icelandic Krona since the Brexit referendum; the situation will start improving towards the end of the month.
There will be limited stock of gill-net Cod from the Baltic Sea available but we will see good volumes of trawled fish at stable prices. We will also be importing defrosted Cod and Haddock.
Farmed Fish: Good supply are expected to continue throughout January on farmed Sea Bass and Bream. Prices on both species did ease a little just before Christmas however, we are expecting the Sea Bream prices to go up slightly from the second week of January.
There will be also a good availability on all sizes of farmed fish such as Turbot, Meagre and Halibut, with steady prices.
Trout: December saw issues with availability from Scotland of larger fish due to a lower than expected growth cycle, however, we have a back up in place until the fish have grown further.
Flatfish: We should see a good run of Lemon Sole in January when prices normally ease after the Christmas highs.
As we are in the middle of the spawning season for Plaice, most fish will be full of roe and will soon become thin with poorer flesh quality. Plaice will start coming back in to prime condition towards the end of March/early April.
Shellfish: Dutch Mussels will be in good supply in January and we expect no availability issues with USA Scallops. There should be good volumes, weather permitting, of Scottish MSC Mussels and we also have a new supply of rope grown Mussels from the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.
Exotics: With stable weather conditions, we can expect to see a strong supply of fresh Tuna from the Seychelles, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and fresh Swordfish from the Seychelles and India.
Wild Sea Bass: Similar to the last few years, the European Commission has issued a ban on all forms of Bass fishing during the spawning season in February and March to prevent the collapse of the declining stock, which is at its most vulnerable at this time of year.
Fishing will remain unchanged in January with trawlers restricted to 1 ton per month and rod & line fishermen to 1.3 tons per month. Rod & line fishing will recommence in April with a total allowable catch for the year reduced from 13 to 10 tons for boats with a previous proven history for rod & line fishing. Drift netting for Bass is banned for the whole of 2017, however, boats using fixed, gill, trammel or static nets are restricted to a total of 1% by-catch per landing (a maximum of 250kg per month) while trawlers are restricted to a 3% by-catch (a maximum of 400kg per month).
The majority of frozen fish and seafood are imported from abroad and traded in USD. The Brexit vote also has had a significant inflationary impact on the price of frozen products.
Warmwater Prawns (WWP): Supply in general continues to remain tight for Warmwater Prawns. Vietnamese production is below usual levels following drought in the Mekong delta last year. Lower than usual harvests in China have led to substantial increases in local demand for imported Prawns, which is keeping prices high. Black Tiger species particularly has seen a significant spike in pricing, getting up to 40% higher than Vannamei. Farmers are continuing to switch from Black Tiger to Vannamei due to the higher yields from this species.
Coldwater Prawns (CWP): Quota cuts of 42% have been confirmed in Canada's 'Area 6' – this is equivalent to a reduction of over 20,000t for this year. Supply remains strong from Greenland and the Barents Sea but overall volumes are significantly reduced from historical highs. Raw material prices have stabilised however, the weak Pound Sterling is increasing pricing in the UK market.
Cod: Prices for headed and gutted (H&G) Cod are increasing fast amid poor catch rates. Raw material is around 3-5% more expensive then it has been over the last few weeks and around 9% more expensive than at the start of 2016. This is also coupled with the weakening of the British Pound vs US Dollar following the Brexit referendum and the new Barents Sea Cod quota for 2017 that has now been set at 890,000mt (4,000mt down versus 2016). In addition, the overall demand for this specie remains strong and consistent, and there is no expectation for prices to soften any time soon.
Haddock: Increasing demand together with poor catches at this time of year and the movement in exchange rates post-referendum, are causing the headed and gutted raw material prices to rise – we have already seen prices moving by ca. 15% since last month. Haddock also has a significantly smaller quota then Cod; it has been set at 233,000mt for 2017, which is down by 10,000mt compared to 2016. Further price changes will be more evident in January onwards as we enter the new quota year, and they will depend on improvement of catches.
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