FAO fish price index at all time high
Until recently, the FAO’s food price index failed to incorporate seafood, a key contributor to the global food system. The omission of seafood was surprising because fishing dates back at least 40,000 years and seafood now contributes 15% of average animal protein consumption to three billion people worldwide. Moreover, fisheries and aquaculture directly employed 44.9 million people in 2008, with an estimated total of 540 million people deriving their livelihoods from seafood-related industries. In 2010 this changed and the global fish price index (FPI) was included in the FAO’s Food Outlook.
A price index collapses price and quantity information on many different products into a single number. Essentially, the FPI tracks the extent to which seafood as a whole is becoming more or less expensive.
The FPI rose 15 percent in May, well above the level at same time in 2012 and passing the previous peak in 2011. The price of high-end fish around the world has spiked to an all-time high due to a recent rise in demand in China that is outpacing supply. The FAO says that factors such as growing urbanization, which brings about more supermarkets, results in increased demand for seafood in emerging markets, especially China. The Chinese diet is changing and has already boosted demand for grains and livestock feed. Now the index shows that the same demand is rising for high-end seafood such as tuna, oysters and shrimp.
There is no official index of Australian seafood prices but the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science’s (ABARES) December 2013 Productivity analysis of key Commonwealth fisheries states that the average port price for South East Trawl fish peaked in 2009/10 at about $4.20/kg but have declined since and remained stable at about $3.50/kg in 2011/12 and 2012/13. These prices are confused by changes in the landings of different species within the fishery. Very little South East Trawl fish is exported but the fishery’s markets are exposed to imports of fresh fish from New Zealand and frozen fish from other countries so port prices are affected by the strength of the Australian dollar.