Fish oil prices surge on anchovy market tightness

November 1, 2023

2 mins read

Peruvian fish oil prices remain on a firm trajectory, continuing to surpass record highs. As of 1st November 2023, Mintec analytics data (code NX33 - Fish oil 28% omega 3 Peru) shows a free-on-board price of $9,200/MT , which is 14% rise over the quarter, and up by 107% up year-on-year (y-o-y). Market commentators cite several key contributory factors. Anchovies are the main species exploited for omega grade oils, and Peru is the world’s leading catch nation, contributing approximately 30-40% of the annual global anchovy haul.

Peru has two main anchovy fishing seasons; the first season in the main regions of north and central Peru is April-July, and the second fishing season is November-January. However, the Peruvian government has been sending out warnings that the first anchovy season was unlikely to take place, as a way of sustaining biomass. In 2022, the total allowable catch (TAC) quota stipulated by the Peruvian government was 2.8 million tonnes for Season A, which represented almost 40% increase over 5 years. However, unseasonably warm weather conditions caused by El Niño conditions contributed to high presence of juvenile fish, which are insufficient for omega production.

The first season was instead delayed until the start of June and the government authorized a 1.09 million tonne anchovy quota for the first season, representing a 60% y-o-y reduction. This caused prices to soar. However, Scandinavian producers have managed to plug some of this gap by harvesting mackerel, another omega oily fish. Norwegian data shows Norway sold almost 34,000 tonnes of mackerel to the fish oil industry during the year-to-date. This compares with less than 3,000 tonnes in the whole of 2022. According to undercurrent News, the average price to the fisherman for these landings has been NOK 10.69/kg, compared with NOK 6.04/kg in 2022. The profits become magnified for Norwegian fishermen, when considering the strong depreciation of the NOK against the EUR over the last year.

However, Scandinavian mackerel typically consist of feed-grade oils, as opposed to omega-3 grade. So the tightness in anchovy-based oils remains. Much depends on the Peruvian quota for the second fishing season, and also the condition of the live biomass, which are stunted by warmer waters.

Topics: Fish & Seafood
Ibi Idoniboye
Ibi Idoniboye

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