Statistics coming out of the recent World Tuna conference in Bangkok highlight the concern of stock preservation, particularly of yellowfin, bluefin and albacore. Skipjack stocks seem to be holding up in spite of continuing growth in demand throughout Europe.
Sales in North America were down 10 million cases over the 2002-2004 period. The decline was blamed on a widely-publicised mercury scare and price increase, which hit promotional activity. To combat consumer resistance, the three proprietary brands are joining forces in an $8 million TV campaign.
During the conference, the newly-formed Western and Central tropical Tuna Canners Association presented their case for better fishing controls to ensure skipjack is not put under duress. "Stocks are good but talk of fishing quotas will make people realise we have to be sensible," said a spokesman for one of the Indian Ocean fishing vessel companies.
Also highlighted was the cost of fuel, with fishing companies insisting this can no longer absorb the penal price of oil.
Heavy rain in the major Italian tomato growing areas of Puglia so soon after the first plantings could spell disaster, according to sources in Naples.
UK buyers remain unmoved. "We've heard it all before" said one, but the fact remains that timing couldn't be worse. The young plants are started from seed under glass then planted out at the beginning of June - heavy rain can wash many away. UK buyers will no doubt be visiting the region to see for themselves the extent of the damage, but with carryover stocks of whole plum peeled available it seems unlikely minor damage will have no impact on the final crop. Buyers still have contracts for the more popular chopped pack, which uses the less fragile round variety. There does not appear, however, to be any carryover, so if there is a pressure on prices, it will affect chopped first.
Announcements by the Namibian government that there would be no pilchard fishing this season has no doubt caused concern to the two leading UK brands, Princes and Glenryck, which have both traditionally used Namibian product supplied under a complicated quota arrangement. Last year the quota was for 25,000 tons but the latest bio -mass statistics forced the fishing ban to conserve stocks.