Tuna exports expected to jump significantly this year
After enduring five successive years of declining demand in overseas shipments, the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA) said it expects the value of tuna exports to reach between 85 and 90 billion baht in value this year, a rise of around 15 percent.
The significant and much-needed jump for the industry comes via growing demand in South Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, according to the president of the TTIA, Chanintr Chalisarapong.
The president said the actual growth in tonnage will only be about two percent, up from 650,000 tonnes in 2015, but the financial return will be significantly better because the price of raw tuna has apparently stabilised.
Mr Chanintr claimed 2015 the industry effectively ‘bottomed out’.
Since 2011, the value of Thailand’s tuna shipments has declined due to the lower cost of raw tuna, but this year the TTIA president is quoted as saying,
‘The production cost of tuna is also stable in line with the price of fuel,’ and so this will effectively improve the financial bottom line for tuna exporters.
Thailand is the world’s leading exporter of canned tuna. This is despite the fact almost all raw tuna is imported and then processed in Thailand for re-export.
The TTIA says the growing markets in the Middle East, South Africa and Latin America now account for 50 percent of Thailand’s tuna shipments. The United States and Europe account for another 25 percent while Australia, Japan and Canada make up the remaining 25 percent.
The TTIA remains concerned by the weak demand from the US and Europe, but is naturally pleased with the rising demand being experienced in South Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
The TTIA has been proactive in seeking ways to avoid being affected by global raw tuna prices, focusing on innovations to try and increase the value of products.
As Mr Chanintr has stated, ‘We also have to manage to stay in markets where the impact from the global economy and currency exchange volatility are severe. We are selling tuna as commodity products, making us compete for small margins.’
As he noted, ‘Tuna byproducts can be used as materials in many industries, including cosmetics and nutrients.’
Thai tuna exporters, along with the majority of local exporters in other industries, are hoping the baht will at the very least remain around 35-36 to the US dollar.
The TTIA said it keeps a close eye on the movement of the baht and has stated it hopes the central bank would be prepared to intervene to make it more stable when required.