Tuna fishing in the four main areas continues to be poor, resulting in higher raw material costs. Bangkok touched $1,000 tonne briefly before easing to $950, Indian Ocean fish is $1,050 a tonne with Atlantic and Eastern Tropical Pacific around $1,000 a tonne. These prices will remain high through to August according to processors, who predict upwards of £1,200 a tonne before the main Indian Ocean season for skipjack starts in September.
Counteracting the escalating fob dollar prices is the strength of sterling, which somewhat offsets higher costs. &"We can just about hold current selling prices,&" said an importer, adding: &"If the dollar strengthens over the next couple of months, prices will have to rise.&"
So far there have been no reports of retailers having to review summer promotional activity including bogofs, but the exchange rate remains critical as fish prices are unlikely to ease.
Changing consumer preference for chopped tomatoes instead of the traditional Italian plum could result in limited availability of the former. The market is now 65% in favour of chopped, creating a carryover of plum.
Italy&'s forecasted 4.8 million tonnes for processing will be reduced due to wet weather in Puglia and a delay in planting. The traditional 45-day production season will be cut by seven days. Italian growers are complaining that the 140 per tonne agreed with canners is far too low and will press for price adjustments.
Rain has affected Spain and Portugal but most of their production goes to industrial product such as paste. Bad weather in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang has caused Chinese paste producers to downgrade forecasts.
New processing facilities in Tianjin will open the fast-growing African market to Chinese suppliers and put them in direct competition with Italy, which has dominated Africa for years.
As canning starts, prices for Spanish apricots are expected to be similar to last season on the back of a good crop. Growers, however, are asking for higher prices and are threatening to leave fruit on the trees if processors refuse to negotiate upwards.
A buoyant fresh market may work in favour of the farmers, but sources in Murcia expect a pack similar to last year&'s, with most sales centred on industrial and foodservice packs. Retail demand for apricots has been in decline over the last few years.