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FAO Globefish Reports

17 October 2012

FAO Globefish Reports - Groundfish - September 2012FAO Globefish Reports - Groundfish - September 2012

Global cod landings are expected to increase but the situation for other groundfish species is less positive. It is expected that cod landings will increase significantly, but that landings of other marine groundfish may stagnate or decline. Cod prices should remain stable or even decline later in the year, while prices of some of the other species may increase.


Most cod stocks are in excellent shape and a record season is expected next year. For some time now, Barents Sea cod stocks have been on the path to recovery, and now it is reported that the North Sea cod stock is also on the rise – for the sixth year in a row. The Atlantic cod stock is also improving. However, the Gulf of Maine stocks are still in trouble, and quotas have been cut by 22%.

It is reported that the Russian market for cod is growing, and during the first quarter of 2012 total catches of cod in Russia amounted to 89 700 tonnes - a 19% increase over the same period last year.

The cod market in Europe appears to have reacted to the financial crisis. Consumers seem to prefer less expensive groundfish, and this could hurt the high-quality cod business. On the main European markets performance varied. Cod imports into the UK during the first quarter of 2012 went up by 15.3% to 22 600 tonnes. Norway, the main supplier last year, dropped to fourth place, as China, Iceland and Russia took the top three places.


For haddock stocks the future is not as bright. Scientists are advising a reduced quota for the Barents Sea.


Uruguay is reporting good catches of hake so far in 2012. However, demand has fallen internationally, especially from West African countries. Imports of hake products into the major European markets have slowed down considerably. Frozen hake imports into Italy went down by 10.5% during the first quarter of 2012, and imports of frozen hake fillets into Germany dropped by over 5% during the same period.

At the end of April, the Peruvian Ministry of Production increased the hake quota for 2012 from 8 600 tonnes to 14 723 tonnes, under pressure from industrial action but also supported by scientific evidence from exploratory fishing that indicated a higher biomass.


The traditional winter harvest of croaker in Uruguay had a promising start, but subsequently catches stabilized. Inventories of whole frozen product ready for export are awaiting the resumption of orders from Africa, while the Chinese market has also not resumed its purchases, although this could be attributed to seasonal reasons.


Last year, imports of frozen Alaska pollock into major European markets increased. Germany increased its imports of Alaska pollock fillets by 5.8%, while France increased by 32.6%. This year it does not look as if the growth will continue. During the first quarter of the year both these countries registered slight declines in their imports of Alaska pollock fillets.


Global production of surimi in 2012 is expected to amount to some 704 000 tonnes. In 2009, production fell dramatically because of the financial crisis of 2008, but it now seems to have recovered. However, buyers are being more cautious about building up inventory.

Demand for Groundfish

On the USA market, there was a significant increase (10.7%) in total groundfish imports during the first quarter of 2012. The import value increased even more: from USD 179.9 million in 2011 to USD 227.8 million in 2012 (+26.6%).

General Prices for Groundfish

Over the past year, cod fillet prices have been climbing while pollock fillet prices have been in decline. Hake, which has been in short supply, has experienced significant price hikes over the past few years, especially during early 2012.

Fillet prices have been developing differently for different species. Cod fillet prices have been on an upward trend since early 2010. However, during the past six months they seem to have fallen somewhat in Europe. Pollock fillet prices, in contrast, have been declining for a long time, but seem to have stabilized during recent months at around USD 3.10 per kg. Prices for headed and gutted Alaska pollock, however, are high, as Chinese processors are short of raw material and are forced to buy at high prices to keep production underway. Hake fillet prices are high, but there may now be signs of stabilizing.

October 2012

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