Exporter expects China ex-farm tilapia prices to level off : October 17, 2013
Eva Tallaksen – Undercurrent News
After having reached peak levels, ex-farm live prices in China are slightly softening, and are unlikely to rise more at least until February next year, a China-based exporter told Undercurrent News.
“The total supply of fish compared with August is improved, also farmers do have some margin, as a result, the packer might bid them down,” said Landy Chow from Siam Canadian, which sells around 6,000 metric tons, or 300 loads, of tilapia from China every year.
Most importantly, said Chow, US tilapia fillet prices are at a five-year peak. While this has not seemingly hit demand, it means the “general trend should go down slightly or stabilize at the current level”.
Chow said prices were around RMB 10.20 per kilo from Guangdong, for fish of 500-800g, but could then drop to RMB 9.80 – 10.40/kg in November and December, “and even in January”.
Come February to April, however, prices are likely to rise again, to more than RMB 10.40/kg, he said.
The first harvest usually takes place in April/ May, in Hainan province, followed by harvest in June in Guangdong province.
As previously reported, China’s tilapia supply is expected to be down this year, due to poor weather that has affected harvesting. Floods were more serious this year, while in July, high temperatures increases the spread of viruses, said Chow.
In early October, Tradex’ CEO Rob Reierson said production from China is down 30%, with the majority of the shortage in larger fillets and whole fish.
While there are no accurate statistics, said Chow, speaking to packers suggests China’s harvest this year could drop to 1.15-1.2 million metric tons, down from an estimated 1.45-1.5m in 2012.
“As China’s tilapia farming is scattered around the country and the farms are controlled by hundred thousands of farmers, there are no accurate statistics. This is what I heard from packers.”
A presentation by Ragnar Tveteras, professor & head of Stavanger center for innovation research, at the GOAL conference in Paris last week supported this, showing a fairly strong drop in harvest in 2013, down from an estimated 1.3m tons in 2012.
Tveteras’ figures — which are based on a collation of estimates from industry players, and which he stressed should be taken as rough indications at best — also suggest that the harvest in 2014 and 2015 would drop even further (see chart above).
Chow, however, disagrees with this forecast.
The current high prices are likely to encourage farmers to put more fish into the ponds this year, and next year’s supply should increase by 6-10%, if the weather is favorable, he said.
In the meantime, demand has remained strong, said Chow, echoing comments from US industry players at the start of the month. Most the demand is from the US, he said, followed by Mexico, Russia and the EU, and then Africa and the Middle East.