Frigate 'tuna' trade

- Sep 06, 2018-

This is also an increasing trade between the US in frigate tuna/frigate mackerel (Auxisthazard).

In 2017, China sold 10,714t of canned bonito to the US, worth $28.84m. This is up from 8,107t to $20.10m. Back in 2014, the volume was only 2,008t and the value $5.38m.

There is a loophole in the US where frigate tuna – in oil or water – can currently be imported at 4% duty, compared to 12.5% for canned tuna in water and 35% for canned tuna in oil, one US-based source pointed out.

US companies are able to bring in frigate tuna, which is marked as “bonito, yellowtail, pollock canned not in oil” in the US import data from the NMFS, at the lower duty level and sell it in cans marked “light meat”, the same as skipjack or yellowfin.

China accounts for almost three-quarters of the US bonito imports, according to the NMFS data. In 2017, the total US imports were 16,124t, worth $46.17m.

In addition, China exported $13.43m-worth of frozen skipjack fillets to the US in 2017, up from 10,692t. Canners such as Bumble Bee Foods and Thai Union Group bring skipjack into the US for further processing, sources said.

However, this trade is small and likely to be easily replaced, sources also said.

The US is a relatively small market for China in this trade. China’s total exports were $100.95m in 2017.

Also, the tariffs on loins are only currently at $11/t. “An extra 10% on $11/t, which is an already extremely light duty, won’t cause much harm to the business I don’t think,” said one source, who declined to be quoted by name.