Skipjack Tuna Prices Plummet due to High Supply

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Blair Scott of Mintec.

Skipjack tuna prices are continuing to fall around the world as a result of "too much fish" in Thailand, the world’s largest producer of skipjack tuna.

tuna skipjack

The US, EU, and Japan are the three largest consumers of canned tuna, with the US accounting for about 31% of the world’s canned tuna products. Tuna is the second most consumed seafood in the US, second only to shrimp, with 751 million lbs of canned tuna consumed in 2012. Surprisingly, only coffee and sugar exceed canned tuna in sales per foot of shelf space in your local grocery store.

The US is a net importer of tuna fish with around 400,000 tons of skipjack tuna imported annually, and 26% of this total comes from Thailand.

Skipjack prices in Thailand have been continually falling since May 2013 due to good levels of supply. Although production has eased recently, there still remains a lot of fish in cold storage. These increased levels of supply have been seen as a result of more purse seiners, which are a type of fishing vessel.

Seine fishing is net fishing where a net is hung vertically in the water and is then closed around schooling fish, this method of fishing is the preferred technique for capturing tuna, with some 62% of the world’s 4.2 million tons caught in this fashion. According to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), 20% of the world fishing region, there were around 200 seiners in December 2007. Six years later there are now nearly 300 seiners with many more still under construction.

With the already high levels of skipjack in cold storage, this good supply is pushing prices downwards. Buyers are closely monitoring the market to see when the market will bottom out.

Currently tuna canners have enough supply and most finished buyers in the US and Europe are aware that prices aren’t likely to increase any time soon as a result of the stocks and incoming catch, so we are now playing the waiting game with respects to price.

Founded in 1982, Mintec is an independent source of pricing information for commodities and raw materials. 

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