Prices for skipjack tuna for delivery in January 2022 to Bangkok, Thailand are up over $100 per metric ton from December, with the level in Manta, Ecuador also on the rise, sources told Undercurrent News.
CFR Bangkok prices for skipjack raw material are now over $1,750/t, compared to around $1,600-$1,650/t for December, two well-placed sources told Undercurrent. In December, Bangkok prices edged above Manta for the first time since August 2020. The current level in Bangkok is the highest since May of 2018.
In Manta, one source gave a $1,600-$1,700/t range, but the other said it’s more like $1,650-$1,700/t.
Skipjack tuna, whole frozen, CFR Bangkok
© 2020 Undercurrent News
Skipjack tuna, Bangkok, 4-7.5 lb (1.8-3.4 kg)
The driver in both Bangkok and Manta is poor supply, they said.
For large Thai canners, the price is $1,750/t, with smaller players paying close to $1,780/t, sources said. In Bangkok, the high price is being propped up by traders and so could end up coming down fast, a US-based tuna sector executive told Undercurrent.
“There is still a fish supply problem in the WPO [western Pacific Ocean] from months of slower fishing and COVID-related reduction of fishing effort, with sick crews, travel restrictions, etcetera,” the executive, who asked not to be quoted by name, told Undercurrent.
“It’s the usual story of big traders tightly controlling reduced supply to keep prices up to levels that canners really cannot afford to pay and keep profitable,” he said.
So, the amounts being sold are really minimal, and only enough to keep cannery doors open and staff from being furloughed, said the executive.
“When the price does turn around, as it will do, the drop will be so rapid that it will suck the breath out of anyone holding stocks of fish at higher prices. Everyone is walking on tip-toe waiting for the turnaround on prices, but [in the] meantime buying just the minimum.”
While prices in Manta should move up, “Bangkok could go either way, it depends a lot on Westpac [western Pacific] fishing”, a second executive, a big trader based in Asia, told Undercurrent.
In the eastern Pacific, fishing continues to be poor for boats landing to canners in Ecuador and elsewhere in Latin America. Most boats are in port for the Christmas, New Year and Three Kings holidays running into each other, sources said.
Improved fishing is usually seen from mid-December through into March in the southern Ecuadorian and northern Peruvian waters. However, the cooler seawater temperatures due to la Nina mean this is yet to happen, sources said.
As a result, prices have firmed to between $1,650-$1,700/t, with EU flagged fish at the higher end.
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