Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics
November figures for the volumes of frozen marine products in circulation, including whale meat (item #35) were published on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries homepage
While last month we found that October was slow in terms of both incoming stocks as well as outgoing volumes (with outgoing volumes falling below October 2005 levels), November 2006 has provided a big contrast.
Outgoing stock volume in November came out at 908 tonnes, the second largest amount of outgoing volume since February 2004 (that's as far back as the figures go on the MAFF's homepage).
To put some context around the figure, only July 2006's massive 1,723 tonnes was larger, with the third largest volume recorded being for March 2006 (827 tonnes). The fourth largest amount was also from 2006, the 785 tonnes in August. It's only once we go down to the fifth and sixth largest volumes that we find non-2006 figures - 747 and 745 tonnes in respectively in August and July 2005. The seventh largest figure is the 705 tonnes in August 2004.
But back to the November figure - the 908 tonnes recorded is a massive 73% increase on the November 2005 volume, and a whopping 133% increase over the November 2004 amount.
The figure of 349 tonnes is relatively high, considering that the coastal component of the JARPN II programme finished at the end of October, for which there was only 233 tonnes of incoming stock. I'm not aware of any other relevant background for this figure.
Total stockpile movement
The volume of frozen whale meat overall dropped from the 4,962 tonnes at the end of October, down to 4,403 tonnes at the end of November - a big overall decrease due to the large amount of outgoing stock for the month.
Last month with the outgoing volume figure surprising on the downside (against the trend of ongoing increases in consumption), I noted that it seemed unlikely that the stockpile levels in early 2007 will bottom out at a lower level than they did in February 2006. Outgoing supply would have to exceed incoming stocks over the next 3 months by an average of around 500 tonnes a month for that to happen.
I still have my money on the likelihood of that outcome, although December traditionally appears to be a strong month for consumption, so who knows. Each year, the JARPN by-products are also put on the market around the time.
An ICR press release (in Japanese
) indicated that almost 1,600 tonnes of by-product were available for sale through the wholesale markets between November 29 2006 and January 09 2007. In 2005, this sale didn't start until December 5, however, so I wonder if perhaps the JARPN sale starting in late November for the 2006 figures contributed to the big outflux of stock for the month.
1) Here's the updated annual graph showing incoming stocks alongside outgoing stocks.
With November figures added, and only December figures for 2006 outstanding, we can now see that 2006 outgoing volume was at least 30% higher than the total for 2005, and 76% higher than in 2004. Also, total outgoing stock in 2006 is already 33% higher than total incoming stock for 2005. In 2005, total outgoing stock was approximately equal to the total of incoming stock in 2004.
2) By region, stockpile levels in all of the top regions fell, including a big decrease of more than 200 tonnes in Hakodate. Kanazawa, the port to which I believe the JARPA II fleet will return to in April, also again had an appreciable decrease. Tokyo's stockpile levels only fell by a smaller amount to 989 tonnes, where levels in Tokyo were as low as 80 tonnes in January / February 2006. Perhaps it's possible that Tokyo won't see any of the whale meat from JARPA II in 2007, as was the case in 2006?
3) Incoming stocks graph update. As I noted above, for some reason, there was a relatively high amount of incoming stock for November (about 100 tonnes more than one might have expected). The regional stockpile figures don't provide any hints as to where the incoming stock came from (outgoing stock volume cancelled out incoming volume in every case). As the incoming supply doesn't appear to have been concentrated in any single location, perhaps the reason for the figure is related to a large amount of by-catch during the month? Or was it possibly incoming by-products from the tail end of the JARPN II coastal research?
4) Outgoing stocks graph update. After October's result against the trend, November's result is back on trend, and given the scale of the increase on 2005, above the trend.
5) Finally, the cumulative 12-month graph. For the 12 months to the end of November, incoming stock was 512 tonnes higher than outgoing stock (down from 741 tonnes last month), or in other words, outgoing stock for the 12 months was 94.2% of incoming stock volume (up on 91.5% in the previous month). In plain terms, the total outgoing stock for the 12 months to the end of November was 8,377 tonnes, versus a total of 8,889 tonnes incoming.
I'm maintaining a full set of raw figures in English based on the official ministry figures at FAQ #5 of my Whaling FAQ
(scroll to the bottom).
Labels: stockpile figures, whale meat market, 鯨肉の在庫, 鯨肉の消費