Promotional activity will be scaled back until fishing improves in South Africa/Peru Sardine prices to rise as El Niño's return feared Poor sardine catches are being reported by Portuguese fishermen at a time when canners are under pressure to meet increased seasonal demand. Marine biologists are speculating on higher than normal sea temperatures, resulting in the fish locating in more northerly areas. Morocco has recently started a pilchard industry but it is in its infancy, so UK importers are paying hefty penalties to bring in South African sourced product which incurs a 121/122% duty compared with Peru which is duty free. Morocco has maintained supplies but importers expect prices to rise if raw material availability tightens. South Africa has experienced extreme weather conditions which have prevented normal fishing in spite of increased quotas introduced to compensate for the lack of Namibian product used for the large domestic market. Five years ago, the South African industry was hit by a major recall due to can deficiencies and many believe the market has never recovered. All pilchard fishing has been prohibited by Namibia, due to serious depletion of fish stocks. Peru has faced similar poor catch problems blamed on the return of El Niño. Four years ago when El Niño devastated the world's fishing resources, the first reports came from Peru, so recent speculation of problems returning may not be wide of the mark. A leading importer told The Grocer: "Price rises are inevitable and promotional activity will be scaled back until fishing improves in South Africa or Peru." {{CANNED GOODS }}