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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Whale meat stockpile update - October 2007

October's stockpile figures for marine products in Japanese cold storage facilities were released by the Ministry on Wednesday. The official releases are here (PDF, Excel), and the main figures for whale meat stocks are below with my usual personal interpretations and speculation:

October 2007 outgoing stock: 739 tonnes

The figure is a relative whopper as far as Octobers go. Versus the same month last year, the outgoing stock volume was 51% higher in 2007. As I mentioned last month, October is usually slow, but contributing factors for the increase this year might be...
Possibly distributors paced their sales over the summer months, not expecting the JARPN II auction to be brought forward a month, and then moved to sell stock once news of the early auction broke in mid-October. ICR published figures suggest around 1,600 tonnes of new stock will have been made available at various wholesale markets around the country during November.

The same amount of meat was available in 2006's JARPN auction, and outgoing stock over the December and January period when the auction took place totalled 1,808 tonnes (November also saw 908 tonnes leave storage, but that was with more supply last year).

October 2007 incoming stock: 297 tonnes

Once again, about 30% more incoming stock in October 2007 than 2006, but in real terms its only about a 60 tonne difference.

October 2007 end-of-month stockpile: 3,798 tonnes

It was a brief peak above 4,000 tonnes last month, with stocks falling back into the 3,000 tonne range in October. Stocks had been sitting at levels around 70-75% of 2006 levels since April up until October, when the stock volume reached 81% of the same time last year. This month's accelerated outgoing stock volume puts the stockpile back down to 77% of 2006 levels.

Graph: Annual volumes
Outgoing stock for the year to date jumps back ahead of incoming stock in October, and should stretch out ahead even further over the last two months of the year.

Graph: Monthly stockpile movements
As I suggested last month, there won't be any significant incoming stock volume in the remainder of the year, and we see the overall stockpile size is heading downhill, and it'll likely be that way until the JARPA II fleet currently operating in the Antarctic returns.

Stock levels of around 5,000 tonnes as of October 2006 fell to levels of around 3,150 tonnes by the end of February 2007, so the overall stockpile looks likely to bottom out somewhere in the 2,000 ~ 2,500 range in early 2008 by my reckoning. The JARPA II by-product won't go on sale immediately after the fleet returns (scheduled for April), so distributors will probably again look to pace their sales over the first several months of 2008 until the JARPA II auction.

Graph: 12-month moving averages
The high outgoing figure for October sends the 12-month average back up a notch to 725 tonnes as of October's end, but I'm picking it to fall again a little in November/December.

Graph: Regional whale meat stockpiles
Stock continues to fall in Tokyo (down 132 tonnes to 689), Ishinomaki is still the leader (falling 206 tonnes to 1,367), Kushiro remains in third (down 104 to 592), the consumption area of Osaka is in it's usual range (at 238 tonnes), and in the other smaller areas with stocks Hakodate is down 17 to 180, Shimonoseki down 12 to 154, and Nagasaki rounds at the top 7 for the second month in a row, down 19 to 108 tonnes.

* * *

November figures are scheduled to be released on January 15, 2008.


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