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Why Are Whitefish Buyers Not Choosing Haddock?

06 May 2016

US - North American Haddock buyers continue to search for market demand during a puzzling price floor that has lasted nearly 6 months now, writes Rob Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight.

Haddock raw material pricing was a hot topic at the Brussels Seafood show, which wrapped up last week, so we contacted packers in China to get information direct from the source.

We asked Chris Liu, our Vice President of Asia Operations in our Qingdao Office, about the outlook for Haddock pricing.

[Chris Liu] "The product pricing probably will go up, pretty soon. Because Haddock has been at this low level for more than 6 months already. I talked to some packers and asked them for their opinion, they think that Haddock has been fluccutuating, the pricing. That's why it's so risky to do it right now."

We saw Haddock raw materials reach $4,500 / mt last year, and it's dropped dramatically to about $2,100 where it currently sits.

Even at this price floor, demand is stagnant, so we asked Chris to talk to a leading Haddock packer to see what it would take to jumpstart the market again.

[Chris Liu] "He thinks, once some buyers in North america or in Europe start buying, they will trigger the market right away. And the price will go up $1000 /mt easily."

In the meantime, European demand for whitefish is being filled by Pacific Cod, which is more stable.

[Chris Liu] "Pacific Cod, the pricing is a little higher than Haddock, but it's more stable. The raw material of Pacific Cod has been at this level for 2 years already."

Haddock used to be substituted by Atlantic Cod, but volatile pricing and poor harvests for frozen production have some Chinese processors concerned.

[Chris Liu] "Most of the quota of twice frozen fish went to the fresh market. So there will be less quota for twice frozen Atlantic Cod and the catch is poor. So the pricing probably will go up. And some packers told me it will easily more than $4,000 /mt this year." 

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