US - A poor winter fishery for Pacific Albacore Tuna has left inventories bone dry, in the weeks leading up to this year's season opener, reports Robert Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight.
Ocean conditions in 2015 proved to be a challenge as predicted, with warm water temperatures from California to Alaska.
A market-wide inventory shortage on Loins has lost business for many West coast suppliers.
There is no quota for this fishery, but Wild Pacific Albacore fishery managers expect catches to begin in late June or early July, continuing until October.
It is too early to determine docks prices but many have hinted that increased demand and fleet servicing will bump up grounds pricing this year.
Other negative price factors this year are back orders on Loins and the anticipated limited supply again.
The tail-end of the Albacore sashimi grade Loin inventories in April hovered around $7.75 /lb, which could reach as high as $9.75 / lb in 2016.
Many tuna vendors hinted that these price points could cause Albacore to price itself out of the market once again.
Strong demand for canned, loins, and sashimi products have kept about 50 percent of the Albacore catch domestically, but this year we should see more interest in the blast frozen at sea markets if Albacore is too costly to be canned.
2015 harvests of Albacore tuna in the round produced limited large 15lb up Tunas, and we do expect this trend to continue for the 2016 season.
The limited offers we could find of 15lb up Albacore tunas were in the range of $2.95 - $3.10 / lb.
Smaller sizes like the 9-15lb tunas were the easiest size to source last season and likely next season too, but prices steadily rose after fishing closed in October.
9-15lb whole round Albacore was at $3.05 by the time inventories depleted in April and May.
Regardless of whether fishing is poor or not this year, buyers should expect strong Albacore pricing by July as back orders are honoured.