Chinese tilapia raw material prices higher, but set to drop again : Mar 21, 2018
Louis Harkell : UndercurrentNews
BOSTON, Massachusetts, US — Tilapia raw material prices are currently higher by around 10% compared with the end of last year, with a weaker dollar versus the Chinese renminbi also adding to export price increases.
According to a Tuesday market update by Siam Canadian Group, a large seafood trader, raw material prices are around CNY 9.00 per kilogram ($1.42/kg) presently compared with CNY 8.20-8.30/kg in December.
Higher prices are confirmed by Chinese industry sources, particularly in Guangdong province (see raw material prices table below article), although prices in Hainan are a little lower at CNY 8.4/kg and somewhat variable in Guangdong, too, according to BBW Fish, a Chinese industry publication.
“The main reason for the increase is farmers in Guangdong sold most of their fish in January prior to Chinese New Year,” said Siam Canadian in a note published on its website. “At this moment, tilapia suppliers are mainly harvesting from Hainan. In Guangong, raw material prices are high and that is pushing Hainan raw material prices up and effecting existing orders of tilapia exporters.”
Currency has also appreciated “a lot”, said Siam. In February, 2017, $1= CNY 6.85 versus $1 = CNY 6.60 in December 2017, and $1 = CNY 6.33 currently.
“Recently we’ve seen offers at a higher level,” Don Kelley, vice president of Western Edge Seafood, confirmed to Undercurrent News at the recent Seafood Expo North America trade show. “Packers describe half of that as currency. We can’t really argue with the currency — no one is immune.”
“And then this time of year is not particularly a great time of year to procure tilapia,” he said. He said his firm is inclined to wait until May when there are more fish available in Hainan. “Then we’ll have a clearer understanding.”
Indeed, Siam Canadian said once the new harvest starts in Hainan next month tilapia exporters expect raw material prices to come down slightly to CNY 8.60/KG by the second half of April.
Meanwhile, fish suppliers in Guangdong will see their new harvest start in end of June, the firm said.
But, between July and September supply and raw material prices are “very dependent on weather conditions and therefore difficult to predict”, it said. “Typhoons can have a huge impact on production as can unseasonably high temperature.”
Nick Ovchinnikov, CEO of US-based seafood trading firm Lotus Seafood, an importer into the US and also Latin America, said higher prices for Vietnamese pangasius could also be a factor. Currently, US pangasius importers face backlogs with Vietnamese packers and near 20% price hikes, due to raw material shortages driven by regulatory changes.
“High pangasius prices are pulling up prices for tilapia,” Ovchinnikov told Undercurrent at the Boston show. 3-5 ounce fillets into the US — with standard chemical treatment and protective glazing — are about $1.60 per lb; 5-7 oz around $1.70/lb, said Sergey Nikolenko, COO at the firm, up by 10-15 cents.
Nikolenko reckoned the outlook was pretty stable, however. “For tilapia, if we don’t factor in the exchange rate, I think prices are going to be more or less stable. It won’t be super high — a fair price,” he said.