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The top six exporters of canned tuna for the first half of 2016 in order were: Thailand, Ecuador, Spain, China, Indonesia and Mauritius. Compared with the same time period last year, exports declined from Thailand (-3.4%) and Mauritius (-3.6%) but increased from Ecuador (+3.6%), Spain (+6.8%), China (+15.7%) and Indonesia (+4.6%), for the latter for January-May 2015/2016 period only.
A prevailing trend for the first half of 2016 is that canned tuna exporters who are moving away from the traditional large western markets have increased shipments at higher rates than other exporters who have tended to focus only on the traditional markets. Indeed, Indonesian exports have benefited from this approach as shipments have increased by 10% to the EU, 18% to Saudi Arabia, 60% to Egypt, 640% to United Arab Emirates, 155% to Jordan and 120% to Oman compared with the same period in 2015.
Mixed trends continue in the global canned tuna market. Lack of demand persisted in the USA and western European markets during the first half of 2016 but import demand increased in the smaller markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia as well as in Latin America, supported by affordable prices.
During the first half of 2016, extra EU-27 imports of processed and canned tuna remained stagnant at 249 000 tonnes due to falling demand for cooked loins by European tuna processors. However, imports of canned tuna for direct consumption increased during this period.
In order of ranking, extra-EU imports totaled about 62 850 tonnes from Ecuador (+20%), 26 400 tonnes from Seychelles (+16%), 26 000 tonnes from Mauritius (-6%), 21 000 tonnes from Thailand (-13.4%) and 19 000 tonnes from the Philippines (-16%).
Overall, import trends for processed and canned tuna in the USA remained negative with an 8.4% decline in supplies during the first half of 2016. Among the top suppliers to this market, imports fell from all except Thailand. Imports in Canada declined by 0.3%.
Summer demand for canned/processed tuna was disappointing, reflected by the record low half-yearly imports in 2016. Except for canned albacore in oil, all product type imports declined. Cooked loin imports (HS 160414), which took a 35% share of total canned/processed imports, showed a 6% decline to total about 32 700 tonnes.
Spanish imports of cooked loins alone fell by 14%against last year's. Imports into France were also lower than in 2015. Subsequently, total cooked loins imports into the EU dropped by 4.8% to total 68 900 tonnes. Notably, this year's summer demand for canned tuna in the major Northern European markets was negatively impacted by the unusually cold and rainy weather during the summer months.
Among the leading markets, imports increased by 13% in the UK, where demand, particularly for pole and line caught tuna products from the Maldives, strengthened. In Germany, canned tuna imports declined by 15% during the first half of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015. Among the re-traders, the Netherlands imported 21% more during this period at 23 000 tonnes, but Belgian imports were 12.5% lower than last year’s due to high local inventories. There was marginal import growth in Austria and Poland as well as in the Eastern European members of the EU, namely Czech Republic, Romania and Slovenia.
In volume terms, Egypt, Japan, Australia and Canada were the four largest markets for canned tuna after the EU and the USA. Japan and Australia generally import higher-value product, however with the weakening of the Australian currency, canned tuna imports into this market have been falling. Canned tuna imports increased into Japan by 7.4% at 30 000 tonnes during the reporting period, but declined in Egypt by 3.3% (January-May), in Australia by 12.6% and by 0.3% in Canada.
Consumer demand for canned tuna has improved in East Asian markets namely Malaysia, Singapore, as well as in China and Taiwan Province of China. Lower prices also induced demand for processed tuna from Thailand in the regional niche markets such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. In Latin America, canned tuna imports increased into Argentina, Mexico and Peru, but declined in Chile and Brazil.