John West has warned that skipjack tuna prices to retailers have risen by 15% and will remain high for the next 12 months.
The company said poor catches had been caused by warm surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific causing the tuna to swim deeper than usual.
“The supply chain is empty,” said a spokesman. “There is no fish on the boats, none in cold stores and not much in Europe.”
The shortage would be keenly felt at store level, he warned. There was already reduced promotional activity and some own label suppliers were unable to meet commitments.
One industry source said a premium of at least 10p a can would be added to the price of tinned tuna over the coming weeks, with more increases at the end of the year if fishing did not improve.
Meanwhile, a stronger than expected market for frozen salmon in Japan has resulted in Alaskan salmon processors paying a 10 cent bonus to fishermen. The move would not have any real effect on UK prices, said analysts.