Mackerel Market Report - April 2009

Global mackerel markets appear to have experienced mixed fortunes during the past year, affected by fluctuating currencies, drops in landing quota reflected in unit value, and a major market (Russia) imposing a temporary ban on imports.

The volume of mackerel exported by Norway fluctuated significantly between 2005 and 2007. 141000 tonnes was exported in 2006, which was a -24% reduction on 2005, but there was a surge in exports in 2007, increasing +199% to 339000 tonnes. All countries except Poland imported higher volumes in 2007. 2008 saw a slight reduction in Norwegian exports.

Japan was the key market for frozen mackerel from Norway, accounting for about one third of total exports. Gaps in purchase costs by trading firms have widened because of the yen's appreciation against Norwegian krone since last October, causing some confusion in domestic sales. For the next season, market analysts point out that traders will grope for where the prices will be settled for the coming six months because overall mackerel quotas, including those of the EU, will be expanded. China is an important market for mackerel, mainly for reprocessing, of the final product also ending up in the Japanese market.

Japan's imports of frozen mackerel in 2008 aggregated 41 567 tonnes, down 7.6% from the previous year, while import value showed a marginal decline. Fishing in Norway and Ireland, the two main suppliers, was sluggish, and small-size fish of 130-200 grams from the Netherlands was traded from around the spring. However, fishing in Norway and Ireland turned for the better in the new season started in September 2008,. In Japan, during the present mackerel season the proportion of the species not suited for popular dried cut-open products is rising, giving a scanty prospect for supply from domestic sources. Market watchers are concerned that demand for frozen small-size fatty horse mackerel suited for dried products will become tight. But catches by Korean vessels, operating in the same area as Japan, increased 66.4% to 8 050 tonnes last year, suggesting that the Korean products will have a greater presence in the Japanese market.

German imports of mackerel grew by 54% to 8 000 tonnes between 2007 and 2008. The most imported product was whole frozen mackerel which accounted for more than 60% of total mackerel imports into the country. Main supplying country of frozen mackerel to the German market were the Netherlands with 2 000 tonnes.

All depends on the new mackerel season

Any forecast for mackerel markets is very difficult at this time of the year, as the main fishing season in Norway and Ireland still have to start. Demand seems to be good in Russia and Japan, which should keep prices relatively high in coming months.