Supermarket prices for tinned fish are surging as suppliers warn profit margins have been battered by high raw material costs.
Tinned tuna prices have been increasing since the beginning of the year, and are now up 4% on average compared with last year across 179 SKUs in the major mults [Brand View 52 w/e 13 September 2017].
Prices are rising across both branded and own label tins. A four-pack of John West Tuna Chunks in Sunflower Oil (4x160g) is now £4.61 on average across the major mults, up 7.5% compared with last year, while a four-pack of own label tuna chunks in brine (4x185g) is up 11.9% year on year to £3.97 on average.
Tesco has doubled its price for a three-packs of Princes Drained Tuna Steak in spring water, brine or olive oil to £4, while Asda has hiked the price of a three-pack of Princes Sandwich Tuna in spring water or sunflower oil (3x160g) by 36.4% to £3.
And it’s not just tuna. Average prices are up 5% year on year across the 437 ambient fish SKUs in the major mults, with tinned salmon (up 8%), anchovy (5%), mackerel (8%) and sardines (8%) all more expensive than last year.
A 95g tin of John West Boneless Sardines In Sunflower Oil is up 19.6% to £1.25 on average, while an 80g pot of John West Infusions Salmon Sweet Chilli is up 8% to £1.41 and a 125g tin of Princes Mackerel Fillets In Rich Tomato Sauce, is up 6.5% to £1.10.
The increases in shelf price for ambient fish, which are a combination of higher base prices and changes to promotions, mark the end of a long period of deflation in the category, previously a target for supermarket price wars.
It follows warnings from suppliers that raw material prices were surging due to supply shortages and the post-Brexit currency crash.
“Ambient fish has seen an inflation due to increasing raw material prices and the impact of exchange rates,” says Neil Brownbill, marketing director at Princes. “Reflective of these cost increases, inflation has been passed on to retailers. Over the last 12 months our average unit price has increased by an average of 3.2% year on year, however most of the impact has been felt in the last 12 weeks when the average increase was 10.7% year in year.”
In its Q2 2017 trading update, John West brand owner Thai Union reported a 14.5% drop in profits compared with the same quarter in 2016. It said this was “driven mostly by raw material prices, which increased significantly from the previous year”.
Skipjack tuna prices averaged at $1,763 (£1,332)/tonne during the second quarter of 2017 - up 17.3% on last year, it said, while the salmon price averaged at NOK69/kg, up 6.6% year on year.
Thai Union said it increased the average selling prices of its ambient fish by 3.1% to reflect the rising costs.
“Ambient fish has seen an inflation due to increasing raw material prices and the impact of exchange rates. Reflective of these cost increases, inflation has been passed on to retailers. Over the last 12 months our average unit price has increased by an average of 3.2% YOY, however most of the impact has been felt in the last 12 weeks when the average increase was 10.7% YOY.”