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New Zealand's seafood industry

This article gives an economic overview of selected parts of New Zealand’s seafood industry and provides a five-year comparison of 2007 with 2012.

In particular, this article looks at the:

  • retail prices of popular fish species in the New Zealand market
  • value of major fish export species and their main export destinations.

See also, New Zealand’s seafood industry – infographic, a pictorial summary of selected parts of the New Zealand seafood industry.

In both 2007 and 2012, the most significant species by catch weight was hoki (102,000 and 128,000 tonnes, respectively). Table 1 lists the five top Quota Management System (QMS) species, by weight, for the 2007 and 2012 calendar years.

Table 1

Top five species by catch weight
2007 and 2012 calendar years(1)

Species

 Catch weight (tonnes)

2007

2012

Hoki

102

128

Jack mackerel(2)

46

43

Squid

70

35

Southern blue whiting

26

30

Barracouta

29

28

1. Catch weight for the calendar year is the sum of monthly harvest return reports for January to December. As this does not align with actual fishing seasons, these numbers should not be compared with quota limits or landings for the relevant fishing years.
2. Includes three separate species of jack mackerel, which are aggregated under the QMS.
Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

Species that are important to the New Zealand retail market include snapper, tarakihi, gurnard, salmon, and red cod. Table 2 lists these species and rock lobster (a high-value species), by catch weight, for the 2007 and 2012 calendar years. Salmon is extensively farmed in New Zealand and is generally not a significant QMS species, so is not included.

Table 2
Selected species by catch weight
2007 and 2012 calendar years(1)
Species

Catch weight (tonnes (000))

2007

2012

Red cod

5.9

7.7

Snapper

5.9

6.5

Tarakihi

5.6

5.7

Gurnard

3.8

3.4

Rock lobster

2.4

2.7

1. Catch weight for the calendar year is the sum of monthly harvest return reports for January to December. As this does not align with actual fishing seasons, these numbers should not be compared with quota limits or landings for the relevant fishing years.
Source: Ministry for Primary Industries

Retail fish prices and availability: 2006–12

Salmon, tarakihi, and gurnard are the most-commonly available species that are tracked in the 15 consumers price index (CPI) urban pricing centres. However, some species are not widely available in all regions. For example, snapper and trevally are generally available in all urban areas from Nelson northwards, but barely feature further south (ie Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, and Invercargill). In these four urban areas, sole is widely available. Sole (a flatfish species found around New Zealand but more common in the south) hardly registers in the North Island. Blue cod is not commonly available in the upper half of the North Island.

Table 3 shows the availability of six major species in retail outlets across New Zealand for the 2012 calendar year.

Table 3

Availability of selected fish species in retail outlets
2012 calendar year

Species

Availability(1)
(percent)

Salmon (fillets)

83

Tarakihi

79

Gurnard

71

Snapper

53

Red cod

49

Sole

21

1. Availability is the number of times a species was observed at the time of monthly collection divided by the total possible number of observations, expressed as a percentage.
Source: Statistics New Zealand
    

The lower availability of snapper and sole reflects their regional availability. Salmon is mainly farmed in New Zealand and is not affected by quota limits or environmental effects to the extent that fisheries are. The high availability of salmon reflects this.

While most major species are available throughout the year, there are exceptions. For example, hoki is widely available in September quarters, but less so at other times of the year.

Table 4 shows average retail fish prices from 2007–12, for 12 commonly available species. In 2012, prices for hoki ($14.01/kg), red cod ($16.92/kg), and trevally ($17.99/kg) would have made these fish an attractive choice for budget-conscious shoppers. At the other end of the scale, snapper ($37.47/kg in 2012) and blue cod ($36.62/kg) were the most-expensive fish.

Table 4
Average retail prices of fresh selected fish species
2007 to 2012
Species

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

$/kg

Tarakihi

22.77

25.43

26.67

26.83

27.18

27.43

Gurnard

21.93

24.32

26.42

26.00

26.54

27.83

Snapper

33.67

35.16

37.40

37.87

37.40

37.47

Sole (flats)

21.59

23.25

22.92

22.92

23.68

27.10

Salmon (fillets)

26.88

27.80

28.45

29.21

30.23

30.21

Red cod

13.80

15.08

15.85

16.10

16.26

16.92

Salmon (steaks)

23.99

25.72

24.96

26.80

25.77

27.23

Lemon fish (rig)

19.91

20.23

22.30

21.88

22.35

22.24

Monk fish (stargazer)

19.32

20.69

21.81

22.41

21.92

23.64

Blue cod

29.22

33.01

34.36

34.57

36.33

36.62

Trevally

16.12

16.48

17.12

19.67

16.88

17.99

Hoki

11.56

13.29

13.72

13.31

14.09

14.01

 Source: Statistics New Zealand

Prices for the three most-commonly available species, salmon (fillets), tarakihi, and gurnard, were $30.21, $27.43, and $27.83 a kilogram, respectively. In comparison, beef porterhouse/sirloin steak prices were lower, averaging $24.83 a kilogram in 2012.

Overall, fresh fish prices increased 1.2 percent in 2012, after increasing 2.9 percent in total over the previous two years. In comparison, beef prices rose 0.2 percent in 2012, poultry prices were flat, and lamb prices fell 11 percent.

The figure below illustrates price change for major sources of protein in New Zealand retail outlets.

Figure 1
 
Graph, Retail price change for selected sources of protein from 2007 to 2012

From 2011 to 2012, price movements for the three most-commonly available fish species varied. Salmon fillet prices fell slightly (down 0.1 percent) while tarakihi and gurnard prices rose 0.9 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. Of the species sampled by Statistics NZ, the largest movements were for sole (up 14 percent) and monk fish (up 7.9 percent). Prices for some cheaper fish species fell slightly – lemon fish prices fell 0.5 percent, and hoki fell 0.6 percent.

From 2007 to 2012, fresh fish prices rose 19 percent – an average of 3.5 percent a year. For the same period, prices for lamb rose 35 percent, beef rose 22 percent, and poultry rose 13 percent.

In 2007, the three most-expensive species of fish sampled were the same as in 2012 (snapper, blue cod, and salmon fillets). Snapper, trevally, and salmon fillets showed the least price change over the five-year period, up 11, 12, and 12 percent, respectively. In contrast, the largest changes over the period were for gurnard (up 27 percent), sole (up 26 percent), and blue cod (up 25 percent).

See table 'CPI weighted average retail prices of selected fresh fish species' for prices broken down by region, in the 'Available files'. If you have problems viewing the file, see Opening files and PDFs.

Prices collected for the CPI and food price index are weighted, based on the relative importance of the types of outlets they are collected from. Just under three-quarters of about 95 outlets are supermarkets, and the remainder are fish shops. New relative weights have been used to update prices collected from supermarkets and fish shops since the September 2011 quarter. This update was made as a part of the 2011 Food Price Index Review.

Exports of fish and fish preparations

In 2012, the major export species by value were rock lobster (crayfish), mussels, and hoki. Table 5 shows the value of selected export species for 2007 and 2012.

Table 5
Export value of selected fish species
2007 and 2012
Species

Value (NZ$ (million))(1)

Percentage change

2007

2012

Rock lobster

121

223

84

Mussels

178

207

17

Hoki

132

187

41

Squid

86

86

1

Jack mackerel

33

64

98

Salmon

36

52

45

1. Value data is compiled from free-on-board valuation data taken from overseas merchandise trade statistics.
Source: Statistics New Zealand

When compared with 2007, jack mackerel had the largest increase in export value, up 98 percent over the five years. Although 2007 and 2012 had similar levels of catch (46,000 tonnes in 2007, and 43,000 in 2012), significantly more jack mackerel was exported as frozen whole fish in 2012 (up from $5 million in 2007 to $28 million in 2012).

The value of rock lobster (crayfish) exports also increased significantly, up 84 percent from 2007 to 2012 as a result of increases in both volume and price.

In contrast to these two species, the export value of mussels increased less, up 17 percent over the 2007–12 period. However, actual volumes fell slightly, suggesting an increase in the price for mussels.

Export values for squid remained relatively flat when comparing 2007 with 2012, increasing 1 percent.

Table 6
Top five export destinations for fish, fish preparations, and by-products, by value
2007 and 2012
Destination

Value (NZ$ (million))(1)

Percentage change

2007

2012

China

117

353

202

Australia

240

285

19

United States

157

153

-3

Japan

121

142

17

Hong Kong

173

118

-32

Total (all countries)

1,252

1,573

26

1. Value data is compiled from free-on-board valuation data taken from overseas merchandise trade statistics.
Source: Statistics New Zealand

In 2007, the major export destinations for fish, fish preparations, and by-product exports were Australia ($240 million), the United States ($157 million), and Hong Kong ($173 million). Together, they accounted for 46 percent of total fish and fish preparation exports for the year.

In 2012, the major export destination was China ($353 million), with a 202 percent increase in value for the fish and fish preparation exports group when compared with 2007. By itself, China accounted for more than one-fifth of fish and fish preparations exports for the 2012 calendar year.

Exports to Australia also increased, to reach $285 million in 2012 (up 19 percent).

The value of exports to Hong Kong decreased 32 percent (down to $118 million), but this is related to the increase in China – figures are unavailable for how much passes through Hong Kong into China.

The large rise in the export value to China was largely due to increases in crustaceans (particularly rock lobster) and frozen fish (excluding fillets and fish meat). In 2007, exports of crustaceans to China were worth $725,000. By 2012, this number had ballooned to $164 million. The value of exports of frozen fish (excluding fillets and fish meat) and molluscs (eg pāua , mussels) to China also rose, up 92 and 86 percent, respectively.

Frozen fish (excluding fillets and fish meat) was the second-largest fish export to China in 2012, worth $135 million ($70 million in 2007). Exports of molluscs increased to $32 million in 2012 ($17 million in 2007).

Together, the top five countries accounted for 67 percent of the value of fish, fish preparations, and by-product exports in 2012, up from 65 percent in 2007.

Information for this section is taken from provisional overseas merchandise trade data (at 12 April, 2013).

Comparison of retail and export data

Overall, the shape of New Zealand’s seafood industry has evolved significantly over the past five years.

While retail prices for fish and other seafood increased steadily (up 18 percent in five years) they were not as volatile as some other sources of protein – fresh fish prices increased less than prices for lamb and beef over the same period. Fresh fish prices increased slightly less than the food group as a whole – food group prices were up 21 percent, while fresh fish prices were up 19 percent.

The fish and fish preparations export price index is part of the overseas trade index (OTI).  It rose 26 percent over the five years to 2012 as the significance of the export market increased. China is now the main player in the export market for fish and fish preparations – its value has doubled over the five years. Rising Chinese demand for crustaceans (mainly rock lobster), frozen fish, and molluscs heavily influenced the increase. Exports of fish oils and related products also increased. Over this time, the fish and fish preparations volume index has decreased slightly, down 0.7 percent.

When comparing retail and export price indexes on a quarter-on-quarter basis, export prices were significantly more volatile, largely due to market factors such as the exchange rate. Exchange-rate adjusting flattens much of this effect. From 2007 to 2012, the annual average export price index rose 26 percent, compared with 18 percent for retail prices. (See figure 2.)

Figure 2

Graph, Fish and other seafood retail prices, and fish & fish preparations export prices quarterly from 2007 to 2012

The CPI is a quarterly release that provides information on the price change of goods and services purchased by private New Zealand households.

The OTI is a quarterly release that provides information on changes in the levels of both prices and volumes of imports and exports of merchandise trade to and from New Zealand.

Overseas merchandise trade statistics are released monthly and provide statistical information on the importing and exporting of merchandise goods between New Zealand and other countries.

Page published 6 May 2013

Back to Price Index News: April 2013

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