Pilchards and sardines pricier due to fuel blow...retailers reluctantly leaving behind salmon bogofs...consolidation move scrapped

Oil costs hit prices
Price rises on new season Moroccan pilchards and sardines are blamed on soaring oil costs. Pilchards are up 3% and sardines 8%, the latter also being hit by aluminium costs, which account for 40% of the final product cost.

New season contracts, yet to be negotiated, will reflect levels that will add a few pence to retail prices, warn importers. "Fishing is average but vessel owners are complaining that fuel costs are spiralling out of control and must be reflected in prices."

With canned fish sales in single-figure growth, any retail price increases will cause concern.

Namibian authorities were expected to set out fishing quotas this week but agreement with fleet owners now seems unlikely before June. Pre-season catch forecasts remain similar to last year's, so costs will again be mainly affected by variables such as oil and labour.

Reduction in bogofs
Rising tuna prices are frustrating pre-summer retail promotional plans, leading to fewer bogofs in favour of straight discounting. Retailers prefer bogofs, which historically have encouraged consumer demand. All three catching regions - Indian Ocean, Eastern Pacific and Western Pacific - are exporting below-average catches, hence the price upturn. Bangkok is $900/tonne for skipjack, with Western Pacific fish already above $1,000/t.

A weaker dollar is helping to offset higher CIF costs but importers fear the trend could be reversed, so sterling deals will include a currency variation clause. Such deals fit the own label contract business but proprietary brands do not have the same option.

Deal called off
The acquisition of Ocean Beauty Seafood by Seattle-based Trident Seafoods has been called off at the 11th hour. Neither company has issued a statement but UK salmon importers were surprised as the consolidation made sense to them.