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FAO Report: Fish Demand High, Prices Boosted

04 May 2012, at 1:00am

GLOBAL - Global food prices measured by the FAO Food Price Index fell three points or 1.4 per cent from March to April 2012 but seem to have stabilised at a relatively high level of 214 points, FAO said.

The fall was the first after three consecutive months of increases and although the index is significantly down from its record level of 235 points in April 2011, it is still well above the figures of under 200 which preceded the 2008 food crisis.

The index was published in the latest FAO Food Outlook, a global market analysis which comes out twice a year. It noted that the prospects for the second half of this year and into the next indicate generally improved supplies and continuing strong demand.

Consequently the global food import bill in 2012 could decline to $1.24 trillion, down slightly from last years record of $1.29 trillion Food Outlook said.

Sustained demand for fish and fishery products is boosting aquaculture production worldwide and pushing prices higher, despite some consumer resistance in the more traditional markets in southern Europe.

Overall production for the year is expected to grow by 2.1 per cent to 157.3 million tonnes, thanks to a 5.8 per cent increase in aquaculture output that more than offset a small decline in capture fsheries following limitations on catches of small pelagic species in the Pacific.

Behind the strong demand for fish lies an increase in average per capita food fish consumption, which grew by 1.1 per cent in 2011 and is expected to rise by a further 2.6 per cent in 2012, reaching 19.2 kg per year. Most of this increase is being met by fish from aquaculture production, but with less fish used for feed during 2012, capture fisheries will also contribute to the growth in fish consumption as food.

International trade is expected to increase by 9.4 percent in 2012, implying a slowing down compared with trade growth in 2011.

Prices have increased over the last three quarters, especially for captured species such as tuna, herring, mackerel and squid. Farmed fish prices have been mixed, salmon is down from 2011, while lower production of farmed shrimp has boosted shrimp prices. The FAO Fish Price Index was up 12.4 per cent last year and is expected to increase further.

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