Global demand for canned tuna in the first half of 2021 was lower than in the same period a year ago, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that has kept retailers’ inventories at high levels. High inventories have caused global trade to plummet, falling to levels lower than before the outbreak. This is clearly reflected in the export data of the world’s largest tuna processing country is Thailand.
The year 2020 will go down in history due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted every aspect of the tuna supply chain, from fishing vessels at sea to consumer consumption. The impact of the pandemic was also not entirely negative, the “closed” order was imposed causing people to buy and hoard canned tuna, so tuna production and sales skyrocketed in most markets schools in the world.
To keep up with consumer “panic” buying trends, retailers have placed replacement orders much larger than anticipated for a longer period of time. Especially in mid-2020, the trade in canned tuna shipments has skyrocketed globally. However, inventories continue to grow while consumer demand declines. This situation began to affect import and export activities in the last quarter of 2020 and continued into 2021. Import demand of markets decreased in the first quarter of 2021 and this trend continues to increase in the second quarter of this year. Warehouses in distribution centers such as the Netherlands and Germany are filled with purchased, prepackaged products just waiting to be delivered to supermarkets across the EU.
During the pandemic, most retailers bought too much tuna for their private label and one of them kept inventories high until December without having to buy any more empty products from exporters such as Thailand, Ecuador or the Philippines.
Another disadvantage to global trade is the unprecedentedly high sea freight rates for containers originating in Asia. With the fee increasing to $12,000 per 20ft container, many buyers decided to postpone their orders to wait for the shipping fee to drop.
This is clearly reflected in Thailand’s export data, the Asian country’s exports have declined in more than 30 markets, with only a few markets experiencing growth.
In small export markets, such as Switzerland, Jordan, or Lebanon… are also declining compared to the same period in 2020 and 2019.
In the first half of 2021, although Thailand’s canned tuna exports to Papua New Guinea have grown strongly again after a decline in 2020, up 520%, but still lower than in 2019. Some markets Other markets that are also increasing imports of canned tuna from Thailand during this period are Russia, Argentina and South Africa.
Currently, there is no sign that Thailand’s canned tuna exports will recover. Sea freight rates remain high and retail sales remain sluggish. It may not be until the fourth quarter that the main canned tuna suppliers to the global market such as Thailand, Ecuador or the Philippines can restore exports to pre-pandemic levels, 2019. While Meanwhile, retailers in the markets are trying to reduce inventory by increasing the number of promotional products.