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[2013.03.16] Market Report – Hake
To be published April 2013 by SeafoodSource News www.seafoodsource.com & Seafood Business Magazine www.seafoodbusiness.com

By Chris Dove, Contributing Editor

With the hake season underway, Spain has a favorable forecast for wholesale volumes; Portuguese retail innovation gives hake a run for its money

Distinct from northern hake caught in the North Sea, Skagerrak (Norwegian and Swedish coasts) and U.K., Irish and French Atlantic coasts, the principal sources of Atlantic southern hake are Spain and Portugal.

Wholesale fresh hake price variances were recorded in Spain at press time, ranging from EUR 4.20 (USD 5.50) per kilogram in Barcelona to EUR 6.00 (USD 7.50) in Valencia to EUR 7.21 (USD 9.43) in Madrid. Only in Madrid had prices held steady over the previous three days at EUR 7.21 (USD 9.43) while Barcelona fell from EUR 6.00 (USD 7.84) and Valencia rose from EUR 5.70 (USD 7.45) three days earlier.

Barcelona’s frozen hake prices were more resilient, climbing from EUR 4.00 (USD 5.22) to EUR 4.50 (USD 5.88) in three days while Valencia and Madrid held steady at EUR 3.60 (USD 4.70) and EUR 5.50 (USD 7.18) respectively.

Asked if Madrid’s distance from ports (500 kilometers from Barcelona; 300 kilometers from Valencia) was a reason behind the price differences, head of Barcelona Central Fish Market, Daniel Martínez Menchón explained that with additional logistics costs to the capital which commands higher salaries and prices, “price differences for fresh and frozen hake corresponds to differences in market size. Without making a definite forecast, maybe more a matter for the extractive industries, I have the impression that this year we’ll continue to enjoy abundance of this species.”

At press time, average prices per kilogram for hake weighing 2.5-5 kilograms caught in Gran Sol waters off A Coruña in Galicia ranged from EUR 3.84 (USD 5.01) landed value to EUR 5.27 (USD 6.88) wholesale to EUR 15.27 (USD 19.94) retail.

Twenty percent of Spaniards bought hake from Supermarket/Convenience/General Food stores compared to 5.4 per cent from fresh fishmongers in most recent figures. The rise in Spanish supermarket sales is seen in Eroski’s decision to offer fresh hake baring the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) ecolabel this year, in addition to MSC labeled hake in its refrigerated section and MSC-certified hake under the Findus brand in freezer sections.

In its January 2013 survey of seafood consumption patterns, the Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere in Lisbon found a preference for fresh/chilled hake over frozen with more women having a bigger appetite for hake than men. Survey co-author Carlos Cardoso confirmed that after salted and dried cod, hake is the second most popular seafood in Portugal.

At press time, Portugal’s leading port for first fish sales in Lisbon, Docapesca, cited minimum and maximum fresh hake prices of EUR 2.06 (USD 2.70) in Póvoa de Varzim (north coast) and EUR 4.23 (USD 5.53) in Lagos and Sagres (western Algarve).

According to Sonae’s Sustainability Policy, Portugal’s retail market leader is committing to even further shifting their purchasing strategies, where products captured using traditional fishing methods (such as line fish) take commercial advantage over other less sustainable methods (trawl fishing).

Commercial Director of Fisheries Renato Leite said: “Currently there’s a worldwide increase in hake prices, and due to Portugal’s economic situation, consumer patterns show preference for other affordable fish solutions.”

However, Leite’s enhanced scenario of current hake price increases highlighted the need to continue offering customers their best purchase options. “Consequently,” he continued, “Continente stores introduced several affordable species in its range in 2012, such as Grenadier species. Undoubtedly, abundant Grenadier is a fierce competitor to hake in the deep-sea fish segment.”

European Union studies show southern hake stocks have improved due to good juvenile recruitment. Under its management period 1 February 2013 to 31 January 2014, Total Allowable Catch (TAC) takes into account the southern hake stock recovery plan of 35,000 metric tons (MT) for two consecutive years, affecting the Cantabrian Sea and Western Iberian Peninsula of Spanish and Portuguese waters, excluding the Gulf of Cádiz at Spain’s southernmost tip.

For vessels 10 and more meters long operating across EU and international zones, Spain’s total TAC for the period is 25,970 MT, Portugal’s 4,224 MT.
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