Friday, March 1, 2013
Mexican Imports Pushing Down Prices Of Farmed Bluefin Tuna
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Wholesale prices of fresh farmed bluefin tuna are sinking at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market on an influx of supply from Mexico.
Mexican-raised bluefin is shipped to Japan by air and is typically available at Tsukiji from autumn to spring. It now sells for 1,700 yen to 1,800 yen per kilogram -- 30% less than at the start of autumn and down about 20% on the year.
The lower prices are spilling over to supply from elsewhere sold at Tsukiji. Domestically farmed tuna is hovering at around 3,000 yen per kilogram on average, about 20% below what it fetched last fall. Tuna raised in Spain has tumbled 10-20% since the start of the year and now changes hands at slightly under 4,000 yen per kilogram.
Prices of tuna from Mexico began tumbling in January after the number of suppliers increased by one to a total of three. A failed fish-farming business in the country restarted operations under new ownership.
Supplies also increased after a Japanese trading house and local farmers failed to reach agreement in price negotiations on frozen farmed tuna. The product ended up shipping fresh, loosening supply-demand conditions.
The lower prices have spurred some wholesale customers to give Mexican-raised tuna a try.
"The Mexican-ranched fish had been known primarily for its low price, but many customers who tried it for the first time have marveled at how it was much better than expected," a wholesale broker at Tsukiji says.
But prices of wild bluefin, typically served by high-end sushi restaurants and other eateries, remain solid on limited shipment quantities.
Such tuna caught in Nagasaki and Wakayama Prefectures at this time of year can command wholesale prices of more than 10,000 yen per kilogram at the high end.
(The Nikkei, March 1 morning edition)