As Alaskan salmon canners close plants for another season, the task of selling their production begins. Pinks will present no problems as a result of the failure of all the major runs, resulting in a pack 60% down. Red may be a different story, 213g in particular. They are 10% higher in volume in an already well-stocked market.
Canada's red pack was 60% up but most product went into 105g and the growing skinless and boneless sector. Red prices are similar to last year's because higher dollar costs were balanced by a stronger pound. Pinks will be 50% more expensive in fob terms.
Retail prices may not rise by a similar amount if retailers are prepared to cut margins to keep 213g below £1 a can. Bogofs and discounting are out of the question.
With skipjack fishing in the Indian Ocean going better than predicted, raw material prices have eased. Indian Ocean skipjack is fetching $800/tonne against $900/tonne in Bangkok. Sluggish demand from Europe and the US has held export prices down. Contracts for the rest of 2006 still reflect the highest fish costs, which prevailed in the first six months, forcing a switch to retail price promotions, but bogofs will reappear next year.
A feared change in labelling rules whereby fish other than sardinus pilchardus walbaum could be sold as sardines has been averted. In the US, sprats and brisling are sold as sardines but Moroccan, French and Portuguese sardine packers successfully made representation to Brussels for current legislation to stay in force.
Price increases are expected on pilchards due to a delayed start to the Namibian fishing season. Bad weather was blamed and a UK importer said: "We understand there has been a reassessment of the potential catch that has resulted in a downgrade, hence boats were in no hurry to start the season."
Italian tomato processing has been extended as expected but the additional quantity will not affect prices. All the major contracts have now been concluded, both here and on the Continent. It is too early to predict the extent of retail price increases but with carryover stocks held by importers and retailers it is likely to be the end of next month before they take effect.