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Japan Struggles With High Tuna Prices Japan, February 15, 12

During the past year, prices for Thai canned tuna have increased by 50 percent, surpassing USD 2,000 per M/T.  Costs for skipjack tuna raw material price are reaching record levels. Japanese companies are finding that the high raw material cost has counteracted the appreciation of the yen.
In Thailand, prices usually rise in the months of August and September because of the regulation period established by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission for the fishing of bigeye tuna in the Pacific Ocean from July to September, while reducing catches of skipjack by purse seine vessels at the same time.
Still, at the end of 2011, tuna prices continued to increase even after the WCPFC regulation period, due to increased demand for canned tuna in emerging markets such as China and throughout Southeast Asia. Thailand’s current trading price for skipjack, or bonito, tuna is USD 2,050 to USD 2,100 per M/T.
Canned tuna production in Thailand totals about 600,000 metric tons, about half of global consumption. Processed skipjack is mainly exported to Europe and the United States for use in sandwiches. Skipjack caught in the main fishing grounds of the mid-west and south Pacific are mostly landed in Thailand, forming the basis for the international price.
Retail prices of canned tuna are expected to rise in Japan. However, companies such as Hagoromo Foods Corp, with headquarters in Shizuoka ken, which obtains most of its tuna from its Indonesian joint venture, PT Aneha Tuna Indonesia, does not foresee that its prices will be strongly affected by Thai price levels. Hagoromo engages in the production and sales of canned food products and is Japan’s leader in canned tuna. The most popular canned tuna in Japan is oil-packed, though water packed has gained in popularity among health-conscious customers. Hagoromo has an annual turnover of almost USD 235.5 million in canned tuna, which represents a 46 percent share of its total sales.