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Japanese Tuna Landings In Continued Downtrend – Retail Prices Stable

Tuna landings in Japan are reportedly lower in the first quarter of 2009, if compared with the same period last year.

Total landings reached 93.981 M/T, 6% less than 2008.

Following a long term trend, which became more evident during the last six months of 2008, tuna species usually consumed unprocessed are showing lower landings month after month.

Bluefin landings were down 56% this year, along with bigeye and yellowfin down by 20% and 14% respectively. (See table)
Those numbers cannot be read as a drop in sashimi consumption in the country, since the Japanese Ministry of Fisheries doesn’t specify the amount of tuna imports entering the Japanese market.

In addition, Japan has been able to maintain the retail price of tuna for sashimi stable for the past four years, ranging from 38 to 42 dollars per Kg in Tokyo and Osaka.

Even though Japan is the top country in sashimi consumption in the world, the government is constantly stimulating the expansion of the Japanese cuisine. Last week it has announced the winners of the Third Annual Minister's Award for Overseas Promotion of Japanese Food, which included CEOs of food companies and chefs of sushi restaurants.

Albacore landings were the least affected this quarter, keeping almost the same volume as last year’s 9.471 M/T. Skipjack landings were only 4% down and accounted for 72.456 M/T this year, with a price per M/T of USD 2.854 (average price of frozen and fresh skipjack landings combined).

After bluefin, which can reach a price of up to 4 thousand dollars per kilogram, bigeye tuna was sold at the highest price of USD 9.723 per M/T, followed by yellowfin at USD 6.641 per M/T – and then albacore at USD 3.539.