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US Canned Tuna Import Volume Showing Signs Of Recovery

After a dramatic decline in canned tuna imports last year, the first four months of 2013 have proved more promising for the U.S. tuna market as well as the countries that rely heavily on their exports to the world’s largest tuna importing nation.
In 2012 the total import volume of canned tuna for the U.S. shrank to 20.7 million cartons, down 25 percent from the 27.5 million it received in 2011, resulting in a significant reduction in exports for its top supplying countries, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam.
This worrying drop in sales was devastating for exporters as U.S. tuna brands struggled to stay afloat due to record high raw material prices, negative publicity on mercury in tuna, and most significantly, a decline in consumer demand for canned tuna.
But the first four months of this year have shown promising signs that U.S. tuna sales are improving, as increased volumes of canned tuna were shipped into the country, up approximately 20 percent in January and a considerable 36 percent in February when compared to the previous year. As usual, January shows significantly higher figures than other months due to the U.S. single duty quota, with import tax on canned tuna in brine at six percent rather than 12.5 percent at this time of year.

Thailand, as the main supplier of canned tuna to the U.S. will reap benefits from this shift after facing worrying times last year when exports to America dropped considerably by around 29 percent over 2012 for its tuna producers. The rise of U.S. imports in the first quarter of this year will help them to continue benefitting financially from the industry as global leaders.
The most dramatic difference in import figures occurred in 2001 when the average American was recorded to eat 1.3 kg of tuna annually, compared to 1.5 kg in the previous year. This figure has decreased even more and in 2011 stood at 1.2 kg.
The decline in consumer demand of canned tuna in the U.S. for 2012 was predicted to be due to several reasons, including the consequence of declining product quality, with increased hydro proteins and vegetable broths being used in cans to get high retention rates. Thai Union owned, major U.S. brand Chicken of the Sea responded with the introduction of no drain products that are said to have become a sales hit in America.
Statistics from the first four months of this year show that 2013 could be a much better year for the U.S. in terms of canned tuna imports. Attention will now be focused towards whether this increase in imports will be short-lived, which may be indicated by  the soft  May figures, or if future months will reveal it as an ongoing upward trend.