Retail prices of saury, an autumn delicacy, are projected to inch down in late September thanks to a slight increase in this year’s catch, according to a Fisheries Agency estimate.
Prices surged in 2017 as catches slumped to about 85,000 tons, the second-lowest on record and about a seventh of the 575,000 tons logged when catches peaked in 1958.
But prices are expected to remain high this year.
“We hope that consumers who refrained from buying saury last year due to high prices will come back to choose the fish this year” an official at one retailer said.
Saury catches are expected to stay low overall this year but will likely increase in the second half of September, the agency said.
Last year, the average wholesale price for saury was two times higher than a decade ago, and retail prices stayed above ¥300 per fish throughout the season as a result.
In addition, the saury sold last year were generally smaller, weighing only 120 grams each. In past years, they were more fatty and weighed in at around 150 grams each.
“This year, prices are likely to fall to around ¥200 to ¥250 in late September after staying at levels as high as last year’s until the early part of that month,” an official in the retail industry said.
Saury prices tend to drop to about ¥100 in the second half of September after staying high until fishing season gets into full gear in late August.
“Saury is no longer a type of fish” that can be bought easily, a Tokyo supermarket official said.
“I can spend up to ¥150 per fish for saury,” a housewife in her 50s said, adding she will opt to buy other kinds of fish if saury exceeds that price.
Still, saury continues to be a major seasonal fish.
While noting that saury often does not sell out if prices are too high, a supermarket official said, “We want to offer the fish at reasonable prices while closely monitoring market prices.”