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Stalling of Strong Recovery USA Imports – Affects Thai Tuna Industry Thailand, September 10, 13

After showing 4 months of very strong recovery in export volumes after a disastrous 2012, the Thai canned tuna industry has been confronted again with stalling and shrinking shipments to its main foreign market. The country has been hit this year with export volume drops to the US of 26.27 percent and 28.00 percent in June and July respectively.

Total US imports mirrored the trend of Thailand’s exports to the US. While January to May showed growth on the same period of last year, imports for June fell 17.44 percent from 2012 to 2013, and 17.80 percent in July.

Thailand exported over 12 million cartons of canned tuna to the US last year, and while the first seven months total for 2013 showed steady growth on 2012, June and July figures raise the question of if this is a temporary drop due to high recorded increases in the first 4 months, or part of a further downward trend in US imports for the rest of the year.
The Thai tuna industry suffered last year too, as total canned tuna exports over the whole year to the US dropped a weighty 14 percent from 2011 to 2012. Canned tuna from Thailand commonly accounts for around 50 percent of total US imports, meaning when demand is low in the world largest single country market, the Asian nation is usually the first one to take a significant hit.
But the situation looked to be on the mend earlier this year, as the first four months of 2013 showed promising signs that US tuna sales were improving, with Thailand showing dramatic upsurges in exports in February and March of 49.40 percent and 55.12 percent respectively.
Similarly, from January to April, US imports were up more than 20 percent each month year on year, peaking in February with a dramatic 27.29 percent hike.
As the world’s largest canned tuna producing nation, Thailand’s tuna industry will now be hoping that recent bearish figures will make a U-turn and return to the healthy progress they displayed in the first quarter of this year.