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Japanese eels are in short supply and Chinese eels are rising in price

There may be a shortage of kabayaki eel this summer

Summer's “土用丑日”(”土用” It refers to the 18-day period before start of spring, start of summer, start of autumn and start of winter)Japanese eels are in high demand. There may be signs of a shortage of kabayaki eel this summer. The reason is a shortage of baby eel for farming. From November 2021 to the end of March 2022, 13.8 tons of baby eels were released into domestic ponds, down 18% from the same period last year, according to the Fisheries Agency. In countries such as Japan, the catch was late this year.

Japanese Eel Festival

Most eels sold in Japan are farmed. From winter to spring, natural baby eel, which are caught in Japan and abroad, are raised in ponds and marketed after summer. From 2020 to 2021, the whole East Asia achieved a rare harvest of baby eel in recent years. With more than 10 tons of fish caught in Japan, eel products are easily available. By 2022, catch times are delayed and catch growth is weak

The catch of baby eels has decreased.

The company said, I feel one month late this year. It has been pointed out that due to low rainfall, baby eel have not been able to swim to banks and rivers, making it difficult to catch eel. As the price of baby eel continues to be higher than previous years due to tight supply and demand, "Domestic fish producers seem to be restricting the purchase of baby eel," said Joji Moriyama, chairman of the Japan Eel Import Association.

In Japan, the fishing season is usually from November to April, and the catch increases rapidly in the second half of the year. However, farmers delayed the start of breeding to coincide with the summer demand period, which also appears to have led to strong demand for baby eel.

eel catch

Farmers in Aichi prefecture said, We have little investment in the ponds, so we are not sure about summer. We have no choice but to cope with the situation with stocks of eels bred between 2020 and 2021. There is a strong demand for kabayaki eel as a gift given by some local governments to pay hometown taxes. "If the catch remains low after next year, it will be very difficult."

Eel prices rose in Japan

The market for Japanese kabayaki eel is showing signs of rising in anticipation of a shortage this summer. According to fish wholesalers at Tojoo Market in Tokyo, the wholesale price of Japanese kabayaki eel is 8,500 to 9,000 yen per kilogram as of April, which is about 800 yen higher than that of 2021.

An official at a wholesaler said, We have received inquiries from retailers, but we cannot meet more demand.

eel retail

An eel importer's wholesale price of Chinese kabayaki eel is 3,900 yen /kg, nearly 40 percent higher than a year ago.

Moriyama said, As the supply of Japanese eels is expected to be low, Chinese eel processing plants are also growing stronger. Prices for both Japanese and Chinese products are likely to rise further during Japan's peak summer demand season.

With the rise in international crude oil prices this year, the cost of heating up fish ponds and packing eel into vacuum bags is also on the rise. The summer is expected to be tough for both farmers and consumers.