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Korean Tuna Exports 2009 – Dramatic Changes

South Korea exports of frozen w/r skipjack has decreased dramatically in the first five months of 2009: 42% less from a total of 39.343 M/T during the same period last year.

The drop was very impressive in January and February, mostly caused by lower exports to Thailand – only in January '08 the country imported almost 14.000 M/T of the fish.

In the beginning of this year, raw material prices were slowly recovering from very low December levels and it’s possible that Thai canneries had their supply already set with another country. However, only lower catches can explain the fact that the amount was not re-directed to another market.

According to Korean customs, only in March '09 the country started to recover its lower skipjack exports. (See table)

Yellowfin exports, on the other hand, have a completely opposite trajectory in 2009 so far. The frozen w/r tuna had its exported volume jumping 54% this year to 10.645M/T, when compared with the same five first months of 2008.

Japan, and especially Thailand, were the countries with bigger contrast that change. It’s hard to predict whether this means a shift in species being canned since Thai customs doesn’t specify the kind of tuna being processed.