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Fish & seafood outlook

Fish & seafood outlook

What's happening in the market in April

APRIL AT A GLANCE:

- Salmon and smoked Salmon - prices easing but likely to rise again after Easter.

- Fresh Haddock - increases in April then likely to drop back as we move towards summer.

- Gilt Head Bream – increasing due to short supply but should drop back in June/July when the new season starts.

- Canadian Lobster – on the way up but should fall back when new season fishing comes through from June.

- Crab – increasing due to high demand from China.

- Clams – increasing due to shortage of Italian Clams but should drop back when the local catches start during the summer.

- Skipper’s Catch recommends: Dover Sole, Sea Bass, Plaice, Pollack.

CURRENCY: March has been a month of declines for Sterling generally followed by a recovery in the currency market. GBP had been trading at around USD 1.25 throughout February but dropped to below 1.22 at the start of March before recovering back to around 1.25 by the end of the month. Against NOK, it had been reasonably stable within the 10.3-10.5 range before climbing during the second half of March to around 10.6 whilst against the Euro the range had been between 1.15 and 1.19 in February but slipped to 1.14 at the start of March. A mini recovery from the middle of the month sees it now back at around the 1.16 mark. Against all three currencies, GBP is down between 10-15% versus February 2016.

SALMON

- Pricing has dropped back slightly to end of November levels following the highs of Christmas but this is still significantly above historical prices.

- Rumoured culling of smaller fish in Scotland due to sea lice concerns led to an oversupply during February and the dip in prices.

- Pricing expected to ramp back up again in the run up to Easter as demand increases from w/c 20th March.

- NOK continues to perform strongly vs GBP.

GILT HEAD BREAM

- Traditionally Sea Bream becomes short around Easter as stocks run down before the new season. Historically this has forced prices up and we are seeing the same in 2017.

- Prices should drop once the new season gets under way in June or July.

FRESH HADDOCK

- Through April, Haddocks are in their main spawning season; flesh becomes softer so the quality of the fillets is deemed poorer. Combined with seasonal winds in the North Sea, this generally means that landings and availability are traditionally low with high prices.

FLATFISH – LEMON SOLE

- In the last few years we have been seeing a steady decline in stocks of large (16oz+) Lemon Sole in the western English Channel.

- As landings are not guided by any specific quotas or other restrictions, smaller size fish are regularly landed at this time of year, also during the spawning season between April and May, without being given a chance to mature.

- Similar to last year, we expect reasonable catches of mainly smaller sizes, 8-12oz and 12-16oz, while grades above 16oz will fetch higher prices due to very limited availability and growing demand.

EXOTICS

- We are likely to see price increases on both Swordfish and Tuna as we approach the summer due to patchy supply of fish throughout this period.

- June through to September is always a challenging period as the Monsoon season takes affect on fishing conditions; strong winds and rain make it extremely difficult for vessels to make the trip to the fish grounds.

CRAB

- Increasing demand from the Asian markets for raw material and prepared products stimulated by cheaper prices driven by the weak Pound Sterling.

- Fairly static landings in the UK between 2011 and 2015 - while there are no quotas on Crabs, there are limits on sizes caught and only boats with shellfish entitlements can target Crab.

- Increase in minimum wage – picking Crab is labour intensive.

- Strong US Dollar leading to increases in the cost of fuel and plastic packaging.

FROZEN WHITEFISH

- Atlantic Cod raw material remains high on the back of strong demand from all markets, poor supply on Pacific Cod and continual strengthening of the USD against the GBP.

- Haddock raw material continues to increase and is becoming difficult for processors to buy on the back of poor catching at the back end of 2016 and going into 2017; raw material prices will continue to rise as demand remains strong.

- Frozen At Sea (FAS) Haddock in 5-8oz and Cod in 16-32oz are very limited and prices are high based on lack of fish coming through. We expect FAS Cod to be more available at the end of March but with Easter approaching, prices will remain firm on the back of strong demand from Europe.

FROZEN ALASKAN POLLOCK

- Alaskan Pollock prices dived at the start of 2016 due to a major supplier going out of business and dumping lots of surplus stock onto the market. Prices have climbed steadily since.

- Whilst the 2017 quota has been set at just below 2016 levels, larger fish, popular in the European markets, have been in short supply whilst smaller fish have been more plentiful.

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