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Sharp Drop In US Imports of Pre-cooked Tuna Loins United States, August 14, 12

The total import volume of frozen pre-cooked tuna loins of the U.S. market plummeted to an astounding low last year, with the category’s two major exporters, Thailand and Fiji, following the downward trend.

From 2010’s peak of 65,800 MT, the U.S. imported 46% less of the raw material in 2011.
American seafood giant Bumble Bee closed two of its plants last year, and the effect can be seen in the decline of imports. In July 2011, its albacore loining plant in Fiji closed temporarily after a dispute with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, the small Pacific island nation’s market share dropped significantly from 2010 to 2011, with its export volume declining by 69% to a total of 4,600 MT.
Bumble Bee also entirely stopped processing albacore tuna at its factory in Trinidad and Tobago last September due to low production volumes. Trinidad and Tobago exported 5,600 MT in 2011, a 26% decrease from 2010.
Thailand, the leading exporter in tuna loins to the U.S., also fell 8% last year, but overall it showed exceptional growth from 2006 to 2011, peaking at 26,800 MT in 2010. Thai Union the owner of Chicken of the Sea has in 2010 set up a canning plant in the US, Tri-Union Seafoods, based in Georgia. This plant also runs entirely on pre-cooked loins.
Other exporting countries, not including Trinidad and Tobago or Ecuador, made a huge impact in 2011 as they made zero deliveries in tuna loins to the American market. This is a dramatic change from 2010, when they exported a combined total of 16,400 MT.
Since 2006, the U.S. imports of the raw material, used for canned tuna, have declined by 30% to reach the lowest point in the five year period, totaling 35,800 MT. This suggests the domestic canned tuna production is also decreasing, which mirrors the country’s shrinking consumer demand for canned tuna as well.
Since 2000, about 11% of American households have stopped eating tuna.
At this years Infofish World Tuna Conference in Bangkok Thai packers also said they would be reducing their output of frozen pre-cooked loins due to the higher labor costs they are facing. Thailand will concentrate more on canning.
The closure this year of Bumble Bee its plant in Puerto Rico, is also a sign that even more of the US consumed canned tuna will in the future come either from tuna canneries in Thailand, Philippines, China or Vietnam or from American Samoa.