Global Seafood Market Conference recap: Health message lost as diners choose fried fish

See all our reporting from the GSMC conference in Las Vegas last week.

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Thursday, Jan 29, 10:30 am PST

What health trend?

More bad news: seafood does not seem to be turning the health message into higher sales.

Though 86 percent of female diners know that seafood is heart-healthy, and 58 percent know it can reduce the risk of depression, Alzheimer's, dementia and diabetes, that doesn't seem to translate into actually eating more fish.

Of the declines in overall seafood sales, all species showed declines, including perennial favorites such as shrimp, crab and salmon.

The only entree that grew? Fried fish, which rose in its number of servings by 22 million.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 10:15 am PST

Now for the good news

Even with its declines, seafood sales are still strong at full-service restaurants.

Surprisingly, some 500 million more seafood entrees were eaten in 2014 than poultry entrees, and seafood servings outnumber beef by almost double.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 10:05 am PST

Offering excellent insight

Among the most anticipated presentations at the GSMC is NPD Group Warren Solocheck's data on foodservice sales in the US market.

The macrotrends show a grim picture for foodservice suppliers: US diners are eating out 18 less times per year than they were in 2007, and the biggest loser is the full-service sector, which saw a whopping 2.1 billion fewer diners step through their doors.

Why does that matter? Eight out of 10 seafood entrees happen in the full service dining sphere.

But the trends overall look bad: seafood servings at all restaurants were down 6 percent.

"That's the environment we're dealing with at restaurants," Solochek said.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 10:00 am PST

United tastes

As you drill down into regions, you see some interesting species such as mahi, perch, grouper and swordfish popping up, but in general, Americans are unanimous: salmon is their favorite finfish, and shrimp is their favorite shellfish.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 9:55 am PST

Stronger sales, lower growth

The regional picture reflected the overall trend: sales rose, but volume fell.

Only two regions of the country -- the Great Lakes and the Plains region -- showed volume growth. The rest of the country effectively charged consumers more, but sold less seafood. Not a good thing.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 9:45 am PST

Winners and losers

Cod, crab and tuna were the big winners at US retail over the past year, Gibson's research showed.

Crab sales were up by 11.6 percent, with a rise in tonnage of 7.8 percent. King crab sales were up27 percent by value and 31 percent by volume. Snow and Dungeness also performed well.

Cod sales rose by 17.5 percent, and 20.4 percent by volume, as shoppers took advantage of increased availability.

Tuna sales rose by 16.2 percent, and 30.1 percent by value.

On the losing end, haddock, oysters, catfish and lobster all dropped.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 9:30 am PST

Retailers: Go wild

Among Gibson's slew of fascinating findings was the huge benefit retailers are reaping from listing wild salmon.

Retailers showcasing twice as much wild salmon on their shelves ended up selling more seafood overall.

Wild salmon sales were strong in the past year, with a 21.1 percent climb in value, and a 14.4 percent climb in tonnage.

Sockeye salmon sales alone were up $22 million, while chum and coho sales combined rose by $16 million.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 9:20 am PST

Retail picture not so rosy

Encore Associates' Phil Gibson presented his view of US retail trends in the closing plenary of GSMC, highlighting some interesting -- but slightly confusing -- trends.

US retail sales climbed 6.4 percent over the past year, but tonnage actually fell by 2.8 percent. The average retail price, meanwhile, rose by 9.4 percent.

Even categories everyone thought were growing -- such as salmon, whose sales fell by 3.9 percent -- showed a decline.

--Drew Cherry

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Thursday, Jan 29, 9:00 am PST

We need data!

A lack of accurate catch and trade data was a theme across many of the species-specific sessions.

Some production is being double counted, trade statistics are often skewed by governments and catch data across many fisheries is inaccurate.

No solution for the challenges was presented, but the conference is doing a good job of exposing holes in the global seafood data matrix.

-- John Fiorillo.

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Thursday, Jan 29, 6:30 am PST

GSMC 2016 heads back to Miami

Mark your calendars for Jan 19 -21, 2016, for next year's Global Seafood Marketing Conference at the Intercontinental hotel in Miami, the site of the 2013 event. This year's event drew 455 attendees, not including staff and spouses, John Connelly said.

-- John Fiorillo

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 4:30 pm PST

China's changing workforce

There are always question marks over Chinese production during the New Year.

"It's hard to know how many workers are going to return," Elite Seafood CEO Jason Carter said.

Wage inflation is a concern among many producers, an issue Elite gets around by offering workers bonuses.

Those that aren't able to keep a workforce happy can face walkouts when a sweeter deal pops up.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 4:20 pm PST

More tilapia to go around

The global production of tilapia reached an estimated 4.5 million metric tons in 2014, and it's predicted the overall output will rise 4.8 percent, according to panelists at the GMSC's Value Whitefish seminar.

China -- the world's largest producer -- will see a slight rise of around 2 percent in production in 2015, to some 1.5 million metric tons.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 4:10 pm PST

Stop all the price talk

When it comes to Vietnam, Mascato's Julio Lloves was blunt: don't trust the numbers.

"Trying to make projections more than one year ahead is difficult," he said.

In Vietnam, they make projections for supply, and those numbers are almost always achieved, he noted.

"It doesn't matter if they are achieved or not -- they are 'achieved,'" he said.

"The credibility of information is very low."

The projections of 1.788 million metric tons for this year are higher than last year, in spite of a string of bankruptcies, he said.

With moisture levels the key issue facing the sector, Lloves said the conversation needs to change to quality among suppliers.

"You tell them, 'Stop talking about price,'" he said. "You're already at rock bottom -- let's talk about something else."

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 3:35 pm PST

Branding oysters

The Renaissance in fresh, half-shell oyster consumption in United States continues, Ian Jefferds of Penn Cove Shellfish told attendees at the Global Seafood Marketing Conference.

“We owe credit to the wine industry. A lot of our shellfish presentations are done with wine,” he said. The minerals oysters take out of their water gives them their unique flavor, he said.

And this is leading to oyster growers on the east and west coasts branding oysters by the bay the oysters are grown in.

-- John Fiorillo

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 3:40 pm PST

Is US catfish still a value?

Prices for US-farmed catfish has been on the rise in general between March 2013 and September 2014 for frozen 3-5 oz. fillets.

A shortage of whitefish in the regions that have a yen for the fish -- Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia -- pushed prices up, but as other fish have come into the market, prices have softned a bit.

"It's created a ceiling on where the price can go," one panelist said.

It's also driven catfish away from non-traditional markets, and back to the region that knows it the best.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 3:30 pm PST

Two kinds of cod, more fresh options

Coke versus Pepsi. Pacific versus Atlantic. Which is best?

"They're quite similar, but they're not exactly the same -- some think Atlantic cod has a better flavor," Premium Whitefish panel leader and Inland Seafood CEO Joel Knox said.

"This is a bone of contention among some of our panelists I'm sure."

The flavor isn't the only difference.

Though typically Pacific cod has all gone to China for reprocessing or other Asian markets, more volumes are coming into the United States fresh.

"It's now coming in 11 months out of the year," one panelist said.

With higher volumes of fresh Icelandic and Norwegian cod coming in, "that's going to put a cap on the ceiling for how high cod prices can go."

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2:55 pm PST

Brand Mexico

With Regal Springs rapid expansion in Mexico, "why hasn't the product coming out of the country been promoted?" Inland's Joel Knox asked Regal Springs' Magdalena Lamprecht Wallhoff.

"For one, there's a lot of imports from China, and there is aggressive anti-marketing of the species," Wallhoff said.

Though she conceded the industry does not do enough to market the species, "it's not consolidated enough to have a unified message."

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2:45 pm PST

Lessons learned

Though Regal's Mexican tilapia venture has been a clear success, it took some learning.

"We went into Mexico very quickly, and with a lot of money," Regal's Wallhoff said.

The speed of the project caused a lot of problems the company did not anticipate.

"They looked at us as, 'Oh, here's another big foreign company. What can they do for us?'"

As with other operations worldwide, Regal eventually developed a strong relationship with the community that is flourishing.

"We've overcome the challenges, but they were big ones," Wallhoff said.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2:20 pm PST

Can sablefish be (profitably) farmed?

Not many companies have successfully farmed sablefish, and few are even bold enough to try.

Seattle-based Icicle Seafoods is still at it. But it ain't easy.

"Sablefish very difficult fish to farm," Icicle's Mike Cusak said. "A very, very difficult fish to farm."

The fish is slow-growing and is a ravenous cannibal.

"It's possible, it's just difficult in today's world to do it profitably," he said.

With the premium pricing for sablefish, it may be worth the investment in the long-run.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2:00 pm PST

Question marks hang over cod

As expected, the supply of cod on the US market was up in 2014, but prices for fresh fish were somewhat volatile.

The Premium Whitefish panelists at GSMC presented data that showed an estimate of around 302,000 metric tons of cod on the US market, the fifth year in a row where volumes rose.

Prices for fresh boneless cod, which were on a downward slope for about a year between March 2013 and March 2014, trended up sharply to around $7 per pound by September 2014.

Prices for other product formats including single and twice-frozen loins and IQF portions remained remarkably steady.

Next year, with lower global landings of cod expected, prices would logically firm slightly, but the strong US dollar and a lower supply out of Russia could throw a wrench in things, panelists predicted.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 1:35 pm PST

Changing minds in Chile

Executives from Chilean salmon farming companies on Wednesday told the audience at GSMC's Salmon Panel that it's been interesting to see minds change on the investment prospects in their country.

"I remember Marine Harvest saying for several years Chile is a risky country," one executive said.

Now, he pointed out, the Marine Harvest acquisition of AquaChile shows "only trust."

Mitsubishi's acquisition of Cermaq, likewise, shows "another sign of trust we didn't have a year ago."

Daniel Montoya of Blumar agreed, but said the industry can't expect growing conditions to be perfect every year, but they can expect demand to keep climbing.

"We're thrilled to see how markets are growing for salmon," Montoya said.

With an additional 6 percent of salmon sold into the US for the past two years, some 40-50 million pounds is new on the market, he pointed out.

An executive with another major farmed salmon company on the panel said the focus needs to stay right on the market.

"We need to stop trading fish, and we need to start selling fish," the exec said.

Who better to lead this charge than Marine Harvest, he asked?

"They have a huge responsibility in leading the way in how to do this," he said.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 1:30 pm PST

Tuna, gouper, mahi, snapper supplies stable

Although tuna, grouper, mahi and snapper are a small part of the US seafood mix, the good news is the supply of these species is fairly stable, said panelists at the Global Seafood Marketing Conference in Las Vegas.

For tuna, the disruption of the market in 2012 because of high prices has largely corrected itself. Lower prices are being sustained by excess inventory sales, and restaurants and retailers are returning to focus on tuna at value prices, the panelists said.

- John Fiorillo

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 10:45 am PST

How does the wild salmon season impact farmed salmon prices?

It's a question often asked, but it's unclear exactly how big of an effect the spike in available fresh volumes of wild salmon on the US market.

"It does affect our sales," Blumar's Daniel Montoya said.

"Retailers put ads on them, it gets space on the shelves that usually is for Atlantics."

Marine Harvest’s Gianfranco Nattero sees the impact being less and less severe as consumers keep eating salmon, no matter where it’s from.

"We've seen the salmon market grow, and the strong demand means it's always good for both wild and farmed," he said.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 10:35 am PST

Uncertain sockeye situation

The fresh sockeye salmon season officially kicks off in May with the Copper River openings, and moves through Bristol Bay, Cooke Inlet and Prince William Sound so quickly that the majority of the harvest is done by mid-July.

But not this year.

The sockeye salmon market was flooded with additional fish due to a strong run from the Fraser River, which made fresh volumes available nearly through early September.

Though the Bristol Bay sockeye harvest is projected to be another big one, "the Fraser River phenomenon only comes once every four years," Icicle Seafoods' Mike Cusak said.

Still, inventory remains high for sockeye, and at at this level, processors are going to have the incentive to sell as much as possible, be it fresh, frozen or canned.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 10:35 am PST

Wild up, farmed down?

How does the wild salmon season impact farmed salmon prices?

It's a question often asked, but it's unclear exactly how big of an effect the spike in available fresh volumes of wild salmon on the US market.

"It does affect our sales," Blumar's Daniel Montoya said. "Retailers put ads on them, it gets space on the shelves that usually is for Atlantics."

Another executive from a major Chilean salmon producer was less sure.

"We've seen the salmon market grow, and the strong demand means it's always good for both wild and farmed," he said.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 10:30 am PST

US consumers developing taste for wild salmon

The US produces the largest volume of wild salmon in the world, but a big question remains: how much is staying in-country?

Salmon expert Gunnar Knapp crunched some numbers in the highly complex sector, and estimated that 325,000 metric tons of fresh and frozen salmon was consumed on the US market in 2012, up from around 275,000 metric tons the year prior.

Of that, Knapp estimates around 1/3 is wild salmon.

With an oversupply of sockeye salmon on the market, and even more expected, producers are hoping US consumers will take even more this year.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 10:30 am PST

Big changes coming to Indonesia tuna industry

Sweeping, historic rule changes set to take effect in May in Indonesia could have a dramatic impact on the tuna supply from that country in the short term, panelists said Wednesday at the Global Seafood Marketing Conference in Las Vegas.

Indonesia is looking to kick foreign fleets out of its waters and replace them with Indonesia boats, captain, and crews. In addition, permits that allow foreign vessels to fish tuna in Indonesia expire in May and it is expected these licenses won’t be renewed.

While this might be really beneficial to the health of the tuna resource, buyers can expect supply from Indonesia will be down and prices up.

--John Fiorillo

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 9:45 am PST

Small is the new big

Wells Fargo's Hunt said the seafood industry is missing out on the trend toward smaller-footprint stores and the convenience segment.

While club stores such as Costco and Sam's Club have their place, "nobody in the Baby Boomer generation wants to walk a quarter of a mile to buy a gallon of milk."

For an industry serving a perishable product, it's crucial they target both the Baby Boomer and Millennial demographics, who are turned off by the big box outlets.

"Portion control, portion size -- smaller portions are here to stay," Hunt said.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 9:45 am PST

Brands, brands, brands

We've heard it time and again, but the seafood industry just doesn't seem to get it.

Of 1,000 consumers canvassed in a recent study commissioned by Wells Fargo, three brands were head and shoulders the best known: Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee.

In frozen, Gorton's got a mention.

"Think about the opportunity for all of you in the room," said Wells Fargo's Bryan Hunt. "There's a huge opportunity to create a brand."

Hunt reminded the audience that a brand is not your company name. A brand has meaning.

By communicating to consumers the species, who and how it was caught and where it comes from is only a start.

"Do you all have the assets to communicate to the consumer to drive that consumption?" Hunt asked open-endedly.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 9:25 am PST

M&A still on the way

Wells Fargo's Hunt says we can expect a lot more M&A in the sector.

"[M&A] has been more robust in past two years than it's been in previous 10," Hunt said.

Lower interest rates are one reason, but slower consumption growth, involvement of private equity and more focused larger companies have played a big role.

"If I'm a CEO of a pubic company and I'm trying to show shareholders I'm growing, and there is no organic growth, I have to grow through acquisitions," Hunt said.

Seafood M&A, too, will continue, and at higher multiples.

Thai Union's acquisition of Bumble Bee Seafoods late last year was at a 10.7x multiple on EBITDA, which is above average for the past 10 years of 10.4x, but far below some pricier deals such as Marine Harvest's acquisition of Morpol (11.2x), China Fishery's acquisition of Copeinca (a whopping 16.7x) or SHV's planned acquisition of Nutreco (12.5x).

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 9:15 am PST

US protein demand ready to grow

Bryan Hunt, senior high yield analyst for the Food and Beverage division of Wells Fargo, pointed out that both production and demand of protein in the US have room for growth.

"We're a full 4 percent behind pre-capita production in protein globally," Hunt said.

"We're short on production and it represents a huge opportunity in the value chain."

At the same time, consumption of seafood is flat, but is well positioned -- as is poultry -- to take advantage of the "wellness trend," as opposed to beef, which is showing a major slowdown.

--Drew Cherry

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Wednesday, Jan 28, 8:45 am PST

Good times for the US economy

Wells Fargo Chief Agricultural Economist Michael Swanson opened up the second day of the Global Seafood Marketing Conference by giving attendees a look at the main drivers in the global economy.

With $9.5 billion in exposure in the ag sector, Swanson knows what he's talking about.

"I'm a cynic by disposition, genetics and training, so I might have a more dire outlook," he said.

But Swanson painted a picture of the US economy that bodes well for seafood companies in the country.

The strong dollar, low oil price and general positive consumer outlook is putting wind at the sector's back.

Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the BRICS -- "have become a different story than they were in 2007 and 2008."

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 5:45 pm PST

Vietnam moving shrimp to China on the down-low?

Vietnam surpassed Thailand with an estimated 300,000 tons of shrimp exports last year, according to shrimp panelists at the Global Seafood Marketing Conference.

Vietnam was also a major importer from India and Ecuador, and a number of the panelists suggested these imports likely were “sent to” China. One panelists described what was going on as "smuggling."

-- John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 5:30 pm PST

Global status of shrimp production

The shrimp panel at Tuesday’s Global Seafood Marketing Conference gave a concise breakdown by country review of shrimp production over the past year.

-- John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 4:27 pm PST

Mackerel also on the upswing

The seafood industry should be happy to see any increase in pelagic harvests, so the higher production in mackerel is welcome news.

Mackerel production was estimated at close to 3 million metric tons, nearly 500,000 metric tons higher than 2012 and 2013, and a 15-year high, according to panel data.

Of that volume, Norway once again is the largest exporter, with around 200,000 metric tons shipped, followed closely by China. Iceland and Ukraine are a distant third and fourth.

Nigeria, Japan, China and Russia all lead the import countries.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 4:23 pm PST

Japan still dominates US imports

Japan has been the largest importer of US herring -- which is mainly shipped frozen -- for almost all of the past 15 years, and that does not appear to be changing, according to panel estimates.

Of the total 60,000 metric tons of exports, Japan accounts for over 20,000 metric tons, followed distantly by China.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 4:19 pm PST

US losing taste for herring

US herring import estimates for 2014 were at 15,000 metric tons -- half of the levels in 2005.

"We're just not big consumers of herring," said Brady Schofield, of Norpel.

Norway Seafood Council's Egil Sundheim said his group's research did who some opportunities in the country, however.

"There are segments that have potential, such as Asian markets, but the problem may be that they're too scattered around," Sundheim said.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 4:09 pm PST

Tough times for herring

Herring volumes dip to 15-year low, according to information presented by the Global Pelagics Panel at the GSMC.

Herring production was estimated at around 2 million metric tons.

Of that, Norway accounts for a lion's share of exports -- around 400,000 metric tons.

Russia, however, was not too far behind, followed by China.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 3:50 pm PST

Spanish octopus gaining ground in US

"The US is becoming a distinguished customer for octopus," panelist Ruth Levy from Stavis Seafoods said.

Spanish octopus is now becoming more valued for its high quality, and is even building a brand name.

"People are understanding the difference," she said.

Philippino octopus, which used to be the marquis region, lost its place when it began pumping the product up with water, Levy noted.

"They did themselves in," she said.

Americans are also getting more interested in octopus in general, with food networks and high-end chefs featuring the product.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 3:50 pm PST

Octopus production takes a jump

Output of global octopus took a big jump in 2014, according to panelists on the Global Pelagics Panel. Production exceeded 350,000 metric tons, the highest since 2009.

China again dominates production, with an estimated 120,000 metric tons. Far below that is Japan, Mexico and a jumble of others.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 3:40 pm PST

Americans don't eat squid, they eat calamari

Though Americans ate more squid in 2013 than they did the year prior -- the 78,092 metric tons they ate was pretty measly, one panelist pointed out.

Total per-capita consumption of squid in the US is equal to around one 4-5 oz. squid steak.

"That tells me there is room to grow," one panelist said. "The American consumer maybe just needs a good shove."

Until squid finds its way to the center of the plate, however, it's not likely to see much increase in consumption.

--Drew Cherry

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 3:30 pm PST

China, again, asserts its dominance

Global squid production is on a slight decline, but landings have been remarkably steady over the past six years at around 3 million metric tons, according to panelists at the Global Pelagics Panel.

The mind-boggling number of species were aggregated by panelists, thankfully, and the drill-down data showed other interesting trends.

China continues to be the world's most important supplier of squid, and its dominance has only grown since around 2009.

Peru, likewise, has seen its second-place production rise sharply as well. Japan and Korea account for the next largest volumes of production, though both are showing relatively flat numbers.

--Drew Cherry

Click here to download the full presentation from the Global Pelagics Panel.

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 2:30 pm PST

Beef struggles while pork and poultry surge

Pork production is projected to reach record levels over the next few years and overtake beef production levels. Beef is projected to hit a record low in 2015 of 24 billion pounds, before turning up in 2016 beyond. Meanwhile, poultry production is projected to hit more than 45 billion pounds, which would be a record level.

--John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 2:15 pm PST

A love affair with farmed whitefish

Americans now eat more farmed whitefish than they do wild. This transition to farmed whitefish began in 2010 but is accelerating.

Led by pangasius and tilapia, farmed whitefish sales in 2013 hit 693 million pounds, while sales of wild cod and pollock accounted for 554 million pounds. Consumption of farmed tilapia and pangasius are up from 572 million pounds in 2010.

--John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 2:00 pm PST

Per capita consumption on the rise?

Seafood sellers should expect to see a rise in per capita consumption when 2014 numbers are reported this fall, the National Fisheries Institute's (NFI) Ron Rogness told attendees at the Global Seafood Marketing Conference in Las Vegas.

That's good news for an industry that has seen consumption decrease for the better part of a decade.

Based on a projected increase in imports, per capita consumption of shrimp will rise to between 3.9 And 4 pounds per person in 2014, Rogness projects. Tilapia consumption, too, is expected to rise.

At the moment, the average US consumer spends $273 a year on seafood, a third or so of the cost of an iPhone.

--John Fiorillo

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 11:45 am PST

Pelagics see mixed production results in 2014

Estimated global squid and herring production decreased in 2014 while octopus and mackerel production increased, according to a panel of pelagics experts at the first day of the Global Seafood Marketing Conference.

The panel, led by Egil Sundheim, will present documents showing that from 2012 - 2013, squid production in the US has fallen as well as US squid imports. However estimated squid exports increased in 2014 year-over-year. US net supply for squid saw a rise from 73,322 metric tons to 78,092 metric tons from 2010 - 2013.

In the octopus market, US imports increased in 2014 year-over-year.

For Atlantic and Pacific herring, US landings in 2012 - 2013 were up while estimated imports fell in 2014. Canned or prepared fish was the majority of US herring imports from 2011-2014 at 65 percent and chilled fish accounted for only 3 percent.

As for trade flows, frozen whole herring exports from Russia to China took the top spot for 2013 with 187,470 metric tons while EU frozen whole herring exports to Egypt were only 52,241 metric tons in the same year.

In the chub and Atlantic mackerel market, the US saw an increase for 2013 mackerel landings and 2014 imports. Canned or prepared fish was the majority of US mackerel imports at 52 percent while chilled fish as well as cured or smoked fish accounted for only 5 percent each. Frozen whole fish took the remaining 38 percent.

-- IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 10:40 am PST

Shrimp outlook 2015

While the panel’s estimates in 2014 for a recovery were too low, it believes shrimp production will continue to grow in 2015, just at a slower pace.

EMS is manageable, but that does not mean production in affected areas will return to its former levels, the shrimp panel documents show.

However, increases in production in EMS free areas – India, Indonesia, Ecuador, combined with recovery in Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, mean more shrimp will be produced in 2015.

Meanwhile, currency now supports US buyers; so the US will be the most favored market for exporters in 2015.

But there is a risk that US buyers may have too much of a good thing, the panel warned. The US is the strongest shrimp market, but US consumers may be slow to recover appetite for shrimp after the recent high prices.

Lag time in reflecting lower prices to consumers will mean that inventories may be on the high side, and could affect wholesale prices.

A period of low prices could bring trade issues forward; legislation may mean more trade or antidumping fights in 2015.

But the main risks in 2015, will be a potential resurgence of disease or weather problems, and low prices leading to instability with trade issues or production issues, such as feed costs.

Furthermore, the weakness in Europe and Japan and high dollar may create too much pressure on US market if consumer demand does not bounce back, the panel said.

-- IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 10:40 am PST

Although demand has been strong, higher volumes have led to lower prices

The outlook for 2014 was an optimistic scenario and with no further spread of EMS people were expecting an additional 150,000 metric tons of production.

The actual increase last year was closer to 400,000 metric tons.

The panel last year also predicted that prices may not be sustained and there was a general decline in prices after the first quarter. However, this time last year the panel did not foresee the extent of the shrimp price decrease once prices started falling, it admitted.

Shrimp supply increased nearly every month in 2014, according to the panel. Through Nov. total imports of all types were up 12.4 percent. US total imports are  likely up 12 percent for year.

Prices of vannamei have come down over the year – both HLSO and Cooked, came down 13 percent and 5 percent from January through September.

“The market is now waiting to see the results of the holiday sales, and what will stabilize pricing with increased production and strong US dollar bringing more shrimp to the US in 2015.”

-- IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 10:40 am PST

2014 a year of shrimp recovery

Global shrimp production increased around 10 percent in 2014, according to a presentation given by a panel of shrimp experts at day one of the Global Seafood Marketing Conference.

According to the panel, led by Travis Larkin, despite dropping 19 percent in 2013, production stabilized in most countries with severe EMS during 2014 and was driven by India, Indonesia and Ecuador.

Including aquaculture, wild tropical, and wild coldwater, total shrimp production in 2015 is estimated to reach just more than 7.1 million metric tons which will be up from 2014’s estimation of around 6.8 million metric tons.

Of this, in 2015 aquaculture production is expected to be around 4 million metric tons up from around 3.8 million metric tons predicted for 2014.

Click here to download the Shrimp Panel presentation from GSMC.

-- IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 10:20 am PST

Food loss?

Rogness’ presentation also covered the concept of “food loss” – a phenomenon the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines as “the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason.”

This includes food moisture loss or food discarded by retailers due to color or other appearance factors.

Seafood accounts for 57 percent of food loss – 40 percent for fresh or frozen seafood and 17 percent for canned and cured fish; compared to 20 percent for beef, 29 percent for pork and 15 percent for chicken.

-- IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 10:00 am PST

Where is consumption headed?

American seafood consumption is low – but it could be on an upward climb, said American Seafoods Group’s Ron Rogness in his GSMC presentation.

While the 2013 consumption number – 14.5 -- is lower than the 16.6 pounds per person in 2004, it’s the first time  in a decade that the number has increased instead of going down.

However, Rogness' presentation shows the numbers could be skewed – “seafood consumption is actually a reflection of what is put into the US market, not necessarily what is consumed,” the presentation said. “It does not account for changes in inventory and this can cause substantial error if inventories change significantly.”

Click here to download Rogness' full presentation.

-- IntraFish Media

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Tuesday, Jan 27, 10:00 am PST

As a heavy blizzard hits much of the US East Coast, particularly New England, seafood executives from all over the Americas are gathering in a much warmer city -- Las Vegas. "Sin City," as it's affectionately nicknamed, greeted GSMC attendees with temperatures in the mid-60s -- quite balmy for those traveling from the storm.