End in sight for below cost supplies; operations in Indian ocean to cease Tuna packers are facing increased raw material costs following an agreement reached between fishing companies to cease operations in the Indian ocean. Prices had reached rock bottom in the last three months of 2000 due to oversupply and a weak US market. French and Spanish vessels, which supply the Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius with duty free skipjack, were getting under $500 per metric tonne, which, according to reliable sources, is $250 per tonne below cost, thus the "January 1st" agreement, which is intended to raise prices back to the $750 plus levels. It appears that the move is proving successful as prices this week were over $600 and expected to go higher. To qualify for duty free status, countries under the ACP deal must obtain their raw material from EC vessels, who adhere to verification procedures. In the past, heavy penalties have been incurred by UK importers who assumed suppliers were keeping to the rules, but painful lessons were learnt, thus no-one takes anything for granted and purchasing of duty free product is from well regulated packers. UK prices are expected to rise quickly over the coming months as the higher skipjack costs are fed through the system. The days of low prices: multipacks are a common sight in the multiples at the moment, with Tesco flagging up a special value four pack for £1.79 (Ghana) and Safeway coming up with a six pack, at two cans free for £1.43 (Seychelles) {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}