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1991 global frozen foods almanac.

1991 GLOBAL FROZEN FOODS ALMANAC

USA Frozen Food Growth Sags Again,

After Picking Up a Little Bit in 1990

Frozen food output in the United States was up 3.8% last year, to 28.458 billion tons. But this year's projected increase is shaping up to be a mere 1.9%, to 28.995 billion.

Dollar value for 1990 domestic frozen food production increased 10.7%, to $53.7 billion. But this year's increase is anticipated at only 4.7%, to a tad over $56.2 billion.

Per capita QFF production in the USA, assuming a population of 250 million (the census last year counted 245 million, but is widely conceded to have missed five million) was about 114 pounds, or 51.6 kilograms.

Actual consumption of frozen food may have been higher, with imported frozen vegetables and fish and seafood added to the total (imported frozen meat presumably isn't marketed as such). But huge exports of frozen chicken, and inexplicably unreported exports of frozen potato products may balance or more than balance the scales.

Poultry showed the highest growth of any category last year, up 11.1% to 4.406 billion pounds. Export demand from the Soviet Union had a lot to do with the increase, but the impending economic collapse there may explain why this year's increase is expected to be only 3.4%, to 4.555 billion pounds. Could more frozen chicken end up being dumped on the domestic market?

Frozen vegetable production was up 6.7% last year, to 9.493 billion pounds, but this year's gain is expected to be only 3.5%, to 9.822 billion. With domestic production having fully recovered from the Drought of 1988 last year, imports of vegetables fell by nearly 100 million pounds. Exports were apparently up substantially, although available figures were incomplete.

Prepared foods showed a 2.3% gain last year, to 6.879 billion pounds, and this year's increase is forecast at short of 2.1% for a total of 7.022 billion. The most economical items showed the largest increases in 1990, presumably in response to the recession, and that sponse to the recession, and that trend is likely to continue this year. The only other category to show an increase last year was fruits and berries, up 6.6% to 1.118 billion pounds, mainly because of a huge increase in strawberries.

Fish and seafood production in the USA was off 1.5% to 2.396 billion pounds, and a further decline to 2.358 billion is expected this year. Imports were also down 15.2% last year, to 1.382 billion pounds. Higher prices due to shorter catches, and a recessionary market with less money to spend, were obvious factors - and they haven't gotten better this year.

It's the same old story in frozen juice and drink production, which was off six percent to 282.3 million gallons thanks to that lovely weather in Florida. Output is expected to be lower again this year. Frozen meat, which has never really caught on in the USA except at McDonald's and other foodservice outlets, was down in volume again last year and will be down yet again this year.

Vegetables

Here's a mystery for you: how come Japan reports that it imported 110,142 tons of frozen potato products from the United States last year, when the U.S. Department of Commerce reports exports of only 4,725 tons to all countries?

How come total U.S. frozen vegetable table exports to all countries are shown as 103,110 tons last year, whereas Japan alone reports imports of 167,388? What appears to be a glitch in statistical reporting could be more important than it seems.

Frozen vegetable imports for 1990 were reported at 230,638 tons by the Commerce Department, and if its export figures were taken at face value, it would mean that the U.S. was running a trade deficit of 117,000 tons and $52 million. But it seems more likely that frozen vegetable exports are close to par with imports.

That might negate the argument, frequently raised by California processors faced with massive competition from Mexican broccoli and the like, that free trade is a bad thing for the U.S. food and agriculture industry. But it is also interesting to play with import and export figures in terms of what they mean for net U.S. consumption.

While domestic frozen vegetable production was up 6.7% last year, to 9.493 billion pounds, imports were down 14.7% to 508.5 million. If the 227.3 million pounds of official exports and the 223 million pounds of potato products shipped to Japan are taken into account, net U.S. consumption was about 9.531 billion pounds - about 5.2% ahead of the 1989 total (estimated: corn exports for that year are missing).

Where imports really make a difference is in specific categories. Domestic broccoli production last year, for example, was off 12.6% to 230.6 million tons. But with imports factored in, consumption during 1990 was actually 478.7 million pounds - still down 6.5%, but well ahead of peas, green beans and carrots, all of which outrank broccoli in domestic production.

Imports more than doubled the net consumption of cauliflower, adding 64 million pounds to domestic production of 54.4 million last year, and reduced the decline in that item from 19.2% to 15.4%. On the other hand, subtracting Japanese imports from domestic production of french fries reduces net domestic consumption to 5.25 billion pounds - but increases the percentage gain from 12.5% to 13.1%.

In frozen corn, domestic production was up 6.4% to 951.3 million pounds. But factoring in both exports (94.2 million) and imports (19.9 million) produces a net consumption of 877 million. Export figures are missing for 1989, but if proportional with Japanese imports must have been around 85 million pounds. Yet 1989 imports were 90.6 million pounds, on top of domestic production of 894.1 million. That suggests that net consumption was about 900 million in 1989, and fell 2.6% last year.

Frozen pea output last year was up four percent to 421.3 million pounds. But with imports (41.2 million for 1990) and exports (13 million), net consumption was 449.5 million - barely ahead of 1989's 447.1 million. Consumption patterns in commodity vegetables and french fries since the Great Drought of 1988, therefore, haven't been exactly what raw production figures would suggest.

With prepared foods, we can be pretty sure that last year's 6.88 billion tons of domestic production pretty much matched consumption; if there's an international trade in such items, it has to be fairly insignificant.

Overall growth in the category was only 2.3%, which could mean that the recession has people saving money by fixing their meals from scratch. Breaded pre-cooked poultry, the largest single component of the category and just about the cheapest, showed much stronger growth, up nearly 10% to 1.258 billion pounds.

Economy-minded shoppers also apparently decided they could make do with less seafood specialty items; production for the items was down four percent to 340 million pounds. Ditto prepared vegetables, off 5.2% to 361 million; and even pizza, off slightly to 451 million. Yet traditional frozen dinners showed a 9.7% upsurge to 522 million.

Nationality foods, which had been burning up the track for a few years, advanced modestly (3.4%) to 696 million pounds. Italian food poundage lost ground at 257 million, whereas Mexican foods grew 6.7% to 287 million pounds. Oriental foods showed a 6.2% gain at 85 million, while others posted modest increases over 1989.

The item that actually showed the largest percentage increase, at 20.5%, was vegetable creams, up to 529 million pounds. But maybe that figures, too, if they're both cheaper than milk or cream and perceived as healthier (low in fat and cholesterol) - after all, a lot of people want to live longer to enjoy the money they're saving.

Is more than two thirds of the frozen chicken produced in the U.S. being exported? That's how it seems from figures issued by the Agriculture and Commerce Departments.

The former puts production for last year at 1.493 billion pounds, while the latter puts exports at 1.052 billion. That would leave only 441 million pounds for domestic consumption. But it makes sense: most whole chicken in the U.S. is sold chilled rather than frozen.

It's an interesting contrast to turkey, which is sold in frozen form domestically. Exports of frozen turkey last year were negligible compared to the 2,073 million pounds of domestic production, up four percent from 1989. If most frozen chicken is exported, turkey accounts for more than half the net consumption of about 3.4 billion pounds of frozen poultry and related products (vs. 4.406 billion production).

Increasing sales to the Soviet Union accounted for last year's advance on frozen chicken exports, up 15.5 from 911 million pounds in 1989. Most of the 14.8% increase in frozen chicken production, from 1.301 billion pounds in 1989, was created by the high export demand. At last word, Romania was second behind the Soviet Union as a market.

A category called "table eggs" actually includes both cholesterol-free scrambled egg mixes and breakfast sandwiches that include eggs, as well as whole egg products. Production was up 12.8% last year, to 405 million pounds - but mostly on the institutional side, which suggests the much-touted retail egg products aren't really driving the category.

Catfish was the brightest spot in the otherwise gloomy fish and seafood picture last year, with production up 27% to 126 million pounds. Moreover, prices were strong, with dollar value up 32% to $379 million, after a slump in 1989 that had driven processors close to the wall.

But there was little else to cheer about in a category where overall domestic production was down 1.5% to 2.396 billion pounds and imports off 15.2% to 1.382 billion. Prices told the tale: dollar valuation of the 1990 pack was up 13.6% to $16.8 billion, but the products weren't necessarily moving. Consumption of frozen products must have declined somewhere between 1.5% and 15.2%, depending on just what the overlap is between raw imported and further-processed domestic product.

Domestic shrimp production followed a contradictory pattern: plain shrimp output was up slightly to 672.3 million pounds, but breaded shrimp was off at 114.2 million. Shrimp imports, meanwhile, declined 1.7% to 464.6 million pounds: for the moment, the market appears to be saturated. There were also contradictions in the market for the most common finfish items: fillets were down sharply to 709.6 million pounds; as were steaks, to 157.9 million; and sticks, to 65.2 million. But fish portion production increased to 293.6 million pounds. Trout, which like catfish is largely farmed, showed a 14% increase to 12.5 million tons; but prices were soft.

On the television series Miami Vice, druglords used to brag about having the "juice" to beat any rap that was brought against them. Maybe they're the only ones who have the juice any more; the Florida citrus industry has less and less of it.

Another freeze sent frozen concentrated orange juice (FCOJ) output plummeting 20.4% and 182.6 million gallons last year, dragging production of all frozen juices and drinks down six percent to 282.3 million. Not long ago, there were optimistic forecasts that Florida FCOJ processing would not only recover, but overtake Brazil's - but now there's talk of cheap Mexican FCOJ coming on the market.

What next for Florida - farmed alligators for freezing?

The story in frozen fruits and berries this year is a simple one: output of strawberries soared 33% to 394.3 million pounds, and pulled up the category as a whole by 6.6% to 1.118 billion. That was in spite of the fact that cherry output sank 47% to 119.9 million. Imports are included in the strawberry total, meaning that Mexico had a really good year (88.4 million pounds in this case).

Table : VALUE OF ALL U.S. FROZEN FOODS* 1942 THROUGH 1990 (in dollars)
1942 162,000,000
1943 178,000,000
1944 197,000,000
1945 257,000,000
1946 324,000,000
1947 245,000,000
1948 292,000,000
1949 375,000,000
1950 500,000,000
1951 700,000,000
1952 875,000,000
1953 1,200,000,000
1954 1,450,000,000
1955 1,700,000,000
1956 2,106,000,000
1957 2,362,000,000
1958 2,320,000,000
1959 2,749,000,000
1960 3,037,114,000
1961 3,638,600,000
1962 3,960,000,000
1963 4,381,000,000
1964 5,246,000,000
1965 5,765,000,000
1966 6,250,000,000
1967 6,449,000,000
1968 6,990,000,000
1969 7,641,114,000
1970 7,931,000,000
1971 8,128,000,000
1972 9,230,000,000
1973 12,178,000,000
1974 13,087,444,000
1975 14,329,851,000
1976 16,712,044,000
1977 18,824,605,000
1978 20,442,355,000
1979 23,863,360,000
1980 24,718,829,000
1981 27,604,682,000
1982 30,432,419,000
1983 32,854,387,000
1984 36,203,684,000
1985 37,617,930,000
1986 40,899,955,000
1987 44,057,524,000
1988 47,776,662,000
1989 48,692,787,000
1990 53,691,532,000


*Includes all sales of frozen fruits, vegetables, concentrates, poultry, meats, seafoods and prepared foods at conservative prices or at average prices paid by institutions and reprocessors. As a generally, it can be said that retail sales made up 65% of the total figure until about 1970, but this percentage fluctuated so greatly between product groups that it cannot be used as a rule of thumb. Subsequent sales were virtually 50-50 until the last couple of years, and currently we may say they are approximately 45% retail to 55% institutional. Of frozen food sales made through retail stores, chains with two or more stores account for 70% of business. Source: QUICK FROZEN FOODS INTERNATIONAL

Table : U.S. OUTPUT OF COMMERCIAL FROZEN FOODS 1942-1990 (United States and imports reprocessed or sold in this country)
 (In millions of pounds)
YEAR FRUITS VEGS. PLTRY. MEATS SEAF'F PREP. CONC. TOTAL
 (4) (3) (4) (1) (2)
1942 275 220 70 12 41 5 - 623
1943 210 300 85 14 53 7 - 669
1944 315 285 105 - 53 10 - 768
1945 445 338 124 - 71 25 - 1,003
1946 540 475 150 12 74 40 - 1,291
1947 347 346 181 15 74 5 - 968
1948 377 446 216 20 89 20 - 1,168
1949 360 566 261 50 97 35 140 1,509
1950 475 590 316 75 133 60 300 1,949
1951 420 790 382 85 177 85 440 2,379
1952 420 895 462 125 207 130 550 2,789
1953 542 1,076 559 170 236 195 678 3,456
1954 523 974 676 200 267 280 783 3,703
1955 660 1,140 817 250 307 340 807 4,231
1956 763 1,650 988 300 310 420 919 5,350
1957 671 1,587 1,195 343 319 500 980 5,595
1958 610 1,702 1,445 300 300 540 760 5,690
1959 618 1,626 1,747 300 478 700 1,096 6,565
1960 660 1,957 2,333 330 506 826 1,362 7,974
1961 704 2,116 2,345 360 548 966 1,463 8,502
1962 668 2,261 2,224 450 596 1,152 1,762 9,113
1963 620 2,321 2,095 536 676 1,448 1,388 9,084
1964 775 2,619 2,261 696 785 1,950 1,657 10,743
1965 641 3,050 2,284 765 940 2,146 1,807 11,633
1966 756 3,415 2,528 842 971 2,354 1,702 12,568
1967 740 3,361 2,804 920 990 2,726 1,760 13,302
1968 812 3,775 2,570 930 1,090 3,203 1,679 14,059
1969 782 3,845 2,577 952 1,197 3,611 1,655 14,619
1970 743 4,294 4,294 971 1,265 3,696 1,775 15,389
1971 759 4,528 2,209 990 1,202 3,837 2,010 15,535
1972 697 5,044 2,318 1,005 1,335 4,081 2,098 16,578
1973 764 5,216 2,277 1,190 1,404 4,092 2,360 17,303
1974 756 5,405 2,342 1,222 1,405 3,981 2,307 17,418
1975 691 5,293 2,195 1,278 1,429 4,508 2,490 17,885
1976 694 5,384 2,480 1,321 1,647 4,934 2,611 19,071
1977 759 6,014 2,353 1,369 1,654 5,219 2,786 20,154
1978 631 6,278 2,428 1,370 1,740 5,387 2,699 20,533
1979 665 6,712 2,716 1,380 1,764 5,284 2,891 21,412
1980 753 5,977 2,841 1,410 1,625 5,201 3,256 21,063
1981 698 6,729 3,134 1,433 1,677 5,184 3,060 21,915
1982 818 7,221 2,895 1,623 1,686 5,296 3,054 22,593
1983 747 6,829 3,150 1,679 1,855 5,535 3,163 22,958
1984 790 7,317 3,100 1,729 2,026 5,799 3,062 23,823
1985 821 7,931 3,413 1,533 2,085 5,878 2,843 24,504
1986 862 7,758 3,358 1,490 2,185 5,955 3,008 24,616
1987 1,151 8,050 3,770 1,488 2,330 6,136 2,931 25,856
1988 1,077 8,440 3,853 1,400 2,343 6,415 3,044 26,572
1989 1,053 8,900 3,965 1,401 2,434 6,626 3,042 27,420
1990 1,118 9,493 4,406 1,372 2,396 6,879 2,794 28,458


1. Does not inlcude potatoes (included in vegetables) or fish sticks, fish portions, scallops and

breaded shrimp which are included with seafood. Does include precooked poultry. 2. Includes estimates of juice drinks, synthetics and other concentrated liquids, as well as juice

concentrates. Includes concentrates for chilled juice and remanufacture. 3. Prepared vegetables with prepared foods, except includes onion rings. 4. Includes imports.

[Tabular Data Omitted]

Table : 1990 RETAIL AND INSTITUTIONAL NATIONALITY FOODS U.S. POUNDAGE AND ESTIMATED DOLLAR VALUE

(All Figures in Millions)
 POUNDS VALUE
 RETAIL INST'L TOTAL RETAIL INST'L TOTAL
Italian(1) 194 63 257 563 121 684
Mexican 215 72 287 519 134 653
Oriental 66 19 85 227 45 272
Jewish(2) 15 29 44 44 56 100
Other(3) 12 11 23 19 22 41
TOTAL 502 194 696 1,372 378 1,750


1. Does not include pizza (see Prepared Foods table on opposite page). 2. Includes non-ethnic product whose main emphasis of sales is that it is kosher, but it does not include uncooked kosher poultry, which is included in Poultry table (page A9). 3. Includes Polish, Swedish, German, French, British, "Soul" and others. Sources: Arbitron/SAMI, QUICK FROZEN FOODS INTERNATIONAL

[Tabular Data Omitted]

Table : 1990 RETAIL AND INSTITUTIONAL POULTRY U.S. POUNDAGE AND ESTIMATED DOLLAR VALUE

All Figures in Millions
 POUNDS VALUE
 RETAIL INST'L TOTAL RETAIL INST'L TOTAL
Turkey* 1,555 518 2,073 1,967 631 2,598
Chickens 985 508 1,493 844 398 1,242
Ducks 29 38 67 44 57 101
Rock Cornish Hens 18 9 27 40 20 60
Raw Turkey Roasts 108 27 135 257 72 329
Pan Turkey Roasts 96 - 96 226 - 226
Cooked Turkey Products - 106 106 - 274 274
Table Eggs** 71 334 405 91 208 299
Other Poultry - 4 4 - 5 5
TOTAL 2,862 1,544 4,406 3,469 1,665 5,134


* Weight of further-processed turkey deducted. **U.S.D.A. data includes whole plain, whole blends, white, yolk plain and yolk blends. Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service; QUICK FROZEN FOODS INTERNATIONAL

[Tabular Data Omitted]

PHOTO : TOTAL USA FROZEN FOODS

PHOTO : FROZEN MEATS

PHOTO : PREPARED FOODS

PHOTO : FROZEN SEAFOOD

PHOTO : FROZEN POULTRY

PHOTO : FROZEN FRUITS

PHOTO : FROZEN JUICES

PHOTO : FROZEN VEGETABLES

European Frozen Food Market Up 7.8%,

But Several Countries' Sales Flat

Frozen food consumption grew by 7.8% last year. Official figures count 6,040,200 tons, vs. 5,415,300 the year before; but the actual total was probably closer to seven million.

The percentage increase calculated by Quick Frozen Foods International excludes both eastern Germany and Austria - which appeared for the first time this year in a statistical compilation released by the Schweizerisches Tiefkuhl-Institut (Swiss Frozen Food Institute).

For the second year in a row, no statistical breakdown was available for Belgium, nor was there even a total excluding poultry, as last year. The last overall total reported was 149,460 tons for 1988; even if the market has been sluggish since then, it should be at least that now.

Statistics for Britain seem to be harder and harder to come by - or, to be more precise, they are easy enough to come by, but harder and harder to rely on. As usual, what figures are available ignore both the catering market and poultry, which presumably add at least 500,000 tons.

What stands out this year is the stark contrast between the three countries where frozen food consumption has grown by more than 10% - Germany, France and Denmark - and those where growth has slowed almost to a halt: Britain, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. There doesn't seem to be any clear pattern in this.

Germany, of course, gained 17.3 million new citizens with last year's political reunification. But most of the 18.3% increase in the frozen food market came from what used to be West Germany rather than what used to be East Germany. France showed a 12.2% increase, and Denmark 16.8% (although part of that resulted from previous consumption having been underestimated, according to the Dybfrostraadet (Danish Frozen Food Industry Council).

Denmark became the first European country to reach a per capita QFF consumption level of more than 40 kilograms - 42.3, to be exact. That puts it close to the United States, which has a rate of around 50 (It's hard to pin down, both because US figures are for production rather than consumption, and because the 1990 census may have missed five million people). Evidently the 20's are not the natural limit for QFF outside the US.

As Svend Aage Hedegaard, director of the Danish Council, pointed out, figures for various European countries "still contain a great deal of mystery, e.g., France, 4,900 tons of ready meals compared to 145,500 tons for United Germany and 152,800 tons for the UK" - especially since the French had reported 130,000 tons for 1989 (Grand Froid, a French QFF industry magazine, reports 92,000 tons for 1990).

If frozen food consumption were fully reported for both European Economic Community and European Free Trade Association countries, it would probably be in the neighborhood of 6.8 million tons. Per capita consumption might be higher than the 17.4 kilograms for countries and categories now reported - the impact of Portugal and Greece, say, being offset by the addition of poultry and catering volume for the UK.

GERMANY

No doubt about it, newly united Germany has the largest frozen food market in Europe. At 1,616,000 tons, consumption was up 18.3% last year - and not just because of the sudden addition of what used to be East Germany.

Manfred Sassen, director of the Deutsches Tiefkuhlinstitut (German Frozen Food Institute), estimates that the increase would have been about 10-11% without consumption from eastern Germany being factored in, but figures for the former East German market are uncertain.

Sassen said his Institute wasn't the source of statistics cited in the July QFFI (p. 62) that put East German QFF production for 1989 at 82,729 tons (48,976 for vegetables, 18,725 for ready meals, 7,851 for fruit, 5,126 for meat-sauce dishes and 2,020 for chopped meat).

Poultry consumption, for which the Institute getsits figures from the Bundesverband der Geflugelschlachterein (Federal Association of Poultry Processors), showed a 27.1% jump last year, from 336,000 to 434,000 tons. Since poultry had been a fairly steady category in West Germany, one suspects that a lot of the increase came from the former East German states.

Even with the rate of consumption for Germany being diluted by the addition of the eastern states, the per capita figure for QFF last year remained at 20.4 kilograms, compared to 22 in 1989. Assuming the eastern population is brought up to western consumption levels in a few years, QFF tonnage for Germany should easily pass the two million mark by the turn of the century - and more likely by 1992 or 1993.

Meanwhile, the German market is becoming more sophisticated, with prepared foods showing faster growth than commodity items. Prepared fish and seafood items, for example, showed a 28.3% increase, to 91,243 tons, whereas raw products gained only 6.7% to 36,085 tons. Potato products other than french fries posted a 13.4% increase, to 74,629 tons, although fries still dominated the market at 257,814 tons (up 9.6%). In both cases, but especially the latter, growth was greater on the retail side.

Even in vegetables, the traditional standby, spinach, showed only a 9.6% increase, whereas other raw vegetables were up 12.9% to 183,762 tons. Prepared vegetables also showed a 12.9% increase, to 73,934 tons, although most of the volume (42,888 tons) was in creamed spinach and other spinach items. Ready meals and other prepared foods recorded at 16.8% increase, and the fastest-gaining subcategory was complete meals, up 25.6% to 68,134 tons (thus surpassing pizza, up 18.6% to 67,818).

Bakery products showed a 24.3% increase, to 95,303 tons, with the fastest increase (34.9%, to 37,316) in cakes and rolls. Pasta and pasta dishes, which weren't counted at all until 1989 and were redefined last year, accounted for 8,348 tons - but may become more significant. Dairy products and desserts, on the other hand, barely moved at all - 0.7% to 2,260 tons. Fruit and fruit juices increased 11% to 22,169 tons. German consumers didn't go wild over game; it remained about the same at 12,408 tons - but commercial frozen meat products were up 12.9% to 72,158.

Because ice cream had a greater market in East Germany than other frozen foods, unification brought a sharp increase in German consumption overall - 16.9%, to 583.1 million liters. This includes 449.6 million liters of branded packaged ice cream (up 14.9%) and 133.5 million liters of ice cream sold for immediate consumption by peddlers and ice cream parlors (this was broken down as 112.4 million for West Germany and 21.1 million for East Germany).

Retail share of the German QFF market (excluding poultry, meat and game as well as ice cream) was 53.8%, up just a tenth of a percent from 1989. In just the former West Germany, the percentage of households with microwave ovens increased from 27% to 34% last year; the percentage with home freezers went from 67% to 69%. Home delivery services are a major factor in the market; there are 80 of them in all. Figures on the number of cold stores haven't been published since 1987, when there were 203 of them, with a total capacity of 4.6 million cubic meters.

BRITAIN

If they ever make a movie about the British frozen food market, they should call it Through a Glass Door Darkly. Just to give you an idea how confused the picture is, AGB puts the sterling value of the retail QFF market at 2.098 [pounds] billion, an agency called Key Note at 2.14 [pounds] billion and the Frozen Food Information Service at 3.5 [pounds] billion. The last includes poultry and ice cream as well, along with a forecast 7 [pounds] billion for the year 2000.

All these sources like to talk in sterling terms, of course, since rising prices can create illusory "increases" in categories that are in fact declining in tonnage terms. But the tonnage figures, when you can get them, aren't necessarily any more reliable. The Swiss Frozen Food Institute, which in the past relied heavily on figures from Birds Eye, shows a 1990 retail total of 1,052,500 tons. AGB shows 1,108,000 tons, but without giving any tonnage breakdown by categories. To confuse things even more, the Swiss say there was an overall increase last year, but AGB insists there was actually a decrease.

Despite all the obfuscation, it's pretty clear that bakery products are the only category showing any real increase in Britain. The Swiss (presumably relying on Birds Eye, although Birds Eye itself hasn't put out a report) record retail consumption of 150,400 tons last year, up from an apparent 119,000 in 1989 (when "pastry products" may not have meant exactly the same thing). And reports from pizza manufacturers (see John Saulnier's UK report, page 204), cite sterling growth figures so impressive that the market has to be growing strongly in absolute terms.

Other categories, however, are really in trouble. Frozen fish and seafood tonnage has been hit the worst by AGB's reckoning, down seven percent last year (and down even further, by 12%, so far this year). The Swiss report shows a smaller percentage drop, at 2.8%, from 140,000 tons in 1989 to 136,000 last year. On the other hand, the Swiss show a 4.5% drop, from 208,900 to 199,400 tons, for potato products. Yet major FF companies insist the market for chips is up. AGB isn't much help: it lumps in potato products with vegetables, showing a mere one percent decline for both last year and an expected two percent increase this year.

By the Swiss reckoning, frozen vegetables were off about a tenth of a percent in tonnage last year, from 334,100 to 331,800. The Swiss also show ready meals consumption in Britain at 152,800 tons last year, and frozen meats at 78,900. Neither category was reported at all last year in what was apparently a fragmentary table from Birds Eye, but together they must have declined by a few thousand tons to make the overall totals cited by the Swiss come out. Most likely, there was a sharp decline in frozen meat (AGB gave a tonnage of 136,600 for 1989 last year) on account of the mad cow disease scare, with an increase in ready meals making up for most of it.

A poor economy and rising prices are the obvious reasons for the poor performance of QFF in Britain last year. Findus, which is heavily involved in frozen cod products, reports losing money on them - with consumer prices up 40% since 1988, but cod block prices up 50%. The market for coated fish products, which stood at a bit over 80,000 tons in 1987, has eroded steadily since then, Findus says (citing AGB) - last year it was about 73,000 tons, down eight percent from the year before, and a similar decline this year is expected to bring it down to 67,000 tons. Breaded portions seem to be declining less than fish fingers and battered portions.

Frozen poultry has never been reported in any British QFF tables, but it probably accounts for several hundred thousand tons. The Frozen Food Information Service estimates it at 16.9% of the sterling value of the retail market, while the British Turkey Federation put 1990 turkey sales (largely frozen) at 287 million [pounds] - and chicken surely outsells turkey. QFF catering consumption must be at least 220,000 tons; but it, too, is no longer reported.

FRANCE

At 12.2%, the French increase in frozen food consumption for 1990 may be the largest "real" one (unaffected by the addition of territory and population, as for Germany, or statistical corrections, as for Denmark) in all of Europe.

French consumption totaled 1,342,500 tons of deep frozen (surgele) food. Congele, a less deeply frozen form of food - often, but not always intended for use in furthering processing - accounts for several hundred thousand tons more, but hasn't been reported for the last couple of years.

Potato products showed a 17% increase, to 335,900 tons, doubtless in large part due to investment in new production by companies like McCain. But frozen vegetable consumption actually declined slightly to 303,600 tons, probably due to fresh competition. Bakery products, at 170,000 tons, bore so little relation to the 1989 total of 61,500 that the category must have been redefined. Fish and seafood showed a healthy and believable 26.8% increase, to 269,500 tons.

Frozen meat, at 167,900 tons, was up about five percent from 1989, while poultry, at 36,900, was down 12%. But some of the other statistics don't make sense, in particular 4,900 tons for ready meals, stews and soups. A report in the May issue of Grand Froid puts last year's volume of ready meals at 92,000, up 18.5% from 1989. It also breaks down the category into 51,000 tons of fish and seafood-based items (45,558 in 1989), 32,700 meat-based (27,240) and 8,300 poultry-based (7,253).

Besides ready meals, such other convenience foods as hamburgers, chicken nuggets and even ham and cheese sandwiches are coming on the retail frozen market, after first having established themselves in the fast food arena, according to the same magazine in its July-August issue. Findus, one of the major brands, is the one pushing those sandwiches. Fast food chains like Burger King, which buys 60% of its food (burgers, fries, cod, chicken, ham, orange juice and apple pie) in frozen form, are an increasing part of the QFF catering market.

Ice Cream Sum Also Rises

French ice cream consumption is also on the rise, up a bit over three percent last year to 313,254,000 liters. Ice cream bars, a category in which Bounty, Milky Way and Snickers have followed up on the introduction of Mars, are on a real tear - sales jumped 120% last year. Haagen-Dazs has introduced a super-premium ice cream bar, while Scholler and others have hit the market with European flavor ice cream nuggets.

While the number of ice cream processors remained at 23 last year, the number of frozen food processors increased from 381 to 412. Cold storage capacity for the country, at 11.89 million cubic meters, was nearly 60% above that reported for 1989 (the number of cold stores listed increased from 1,102 to 1,134). Hypermarkets are increasingly important in the retail sector, but so are freezer centers (860) and home delivery services (170-200).

SPAIN

It may seem hard to believe, but Spain seems to have definitely eclipsed Italy as the fourth-largest frozen food market in Europe. In spite of any doubts about the source and reliability of statistics, the evidence is mounting that Spain has a large and fast growing frozen food market.

Statistics distributed by the Swiss FF Institute show a total QFF consumption last year of 534,000 tons, up 9.8% from 488,000 the year before. Fish and seafood is shown as the largest category, at 256,700 tons - and that jibes with a figure of 260,000 tons reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Globefish Research Program (see QFFI, July 1991, page 86).

The UN agency report cited whole hake (50,000 tons), whole shortfin squid (45,000), whole squid (34,000) and hake fillets (14,000) as the leading frozen items imported in 1988. Some of this tonnage may have ended up being further processed, or used as ingredients in non-frozen as well as frozen consumer products. Still, it's impressive. The 1990 total cited in the Swiss report, incidentally, showed a six percent increase over 1989's 223,800 tons.

Vegetables Rank Second

Frozen vegetables are the second largest category, at 156,500 tons, while potato products were up 28.1% to 38,700 tons. Consumption of raw and prepared vegetables (combined in this year's figures) slipped a bit last year, perhaps because of competition from fresh. Frozen meat at 45,700 tons, was up an astounding 48.4% from 30,800 in 1989. And appearing for the first time as separate categories are bakery products (10,900 tons), ready meals (5,500) and pasta products (3,000), lumped together previously under "miscellaneous."

Spain is one of the countries for which no information seems to be available about frozen poultry, and there isn't a clue as to whether that category is significant. But even without it, per capita consumption of QFF stood at 13.5 kilograms last year - ahead of comparable rates for Austria and Finland as well as Italy.

Capacity of cold stores in Spain last year was given as 5.15 million cubic meters, with 3.25 million of that in public and 1.9 million in private facilities. There were 122 frozen food processors in the country, and 21 ice cream makers (ice cream consumption was 157 million liters, up from 149.1 million in 1989).

ITALY

Since QFFI ran a full report on the Italian frozen food market in its July issue (pages 54-55), we need only summarize here:

Overall consumption of frozen food last year increased 6.9% to 380,300 tons, with retail growth outpacing catering. Frozen vegetables still account for more than half the total consumption, at 193,800 tons, up 7.1%.

Potato products (57,400 tons) and fish and seafood (54,200) were the next largest categories, followed by bakery products (including pizza) and pasta dishes. Per capita consumption, at 6.6 kilograms, was still the lowest for any major European country. There are 60 QFF processors, and 51 public and 400 private cold stores (no capacities given). The number of retail food outlets, at 272,000 may be the highest in Europe, and the average size may thus be the smallest - helping to account for the relatively poor showing of frozen food. The great availability of fresh produce in southern Italy, along with a propensity for scratch cooking, undoubtedly is also checking frozen's growth.

SWEDEN

Number six in Europe when it comes to consumption, Sweden didn't exactly burn up the track last year: frozen food intake barely budged, to 251,800 tons, although per capita consumption, at 29.3 kilograms (down from 29.5) remained the second-highest in Europe after Denmark.

The Swedish FF market is less dominated by particular commodities than almost any other in Europe. The largest single category, oddly enough, is meat and venison, which rang in at 51,400 tons last year, but was down from 55,300 the year before. Fish and seafood was second, at 50,600 tons, but that also slipped. Bakery products, including pizza, gained strongly, up nearly 30% to 15,700 tons.

Vegetables and potato products showed modest gains, up about three percent and one percent, respectively, to 36,000 and 33,000 tons. Ready meals made more impressive gains, rising nearly 37% to 21,600 tons, according to the Swiss FF Institute compilation - but since Swedish Frozen Food Institute (Djupfrysingsbyran) officials cited only four percent growth during an interview with QFFI (July, page 50), the shift may reflect only changing category definitions.

Ice cream consumption in Sweden slipped last year from 119.6 million liters to 118.1 million. Reported capacity of the country's 28 public and 114 private cold stores was unchanged at 1.85 million cubic meters. The numbers of QFF and ice cream processors were also unchanged at 80 and nine.

NETHERLANDS

As usual, the Federatie van de Nederlandse Diepvries-Industrie (Federation of the Dutch Freezing Industry) is very broad-minded: it lumps categories together more than any other industry group in Europe.

It also doesn't report poultry consumption. If it did, then the Netherlands would probably have displaced Sweden in the European rankings for total QFF. Without poultry, the 1990 total reported was 246,500 tons, up 4.2% from 1989. With poultry, it would probably have been about 10,000 more.

All categories showed modest gains in consumption, with vegetables at 44,900 tons, potato products at 79,800, meat also at 79,800 and fish and seafood at 13,000. Everything else was called "miscellaneous," and the total for that was also up modestly to 29,000 tons. Per capita consumption, at 16.5 kilograms without poultry, was also up.

Ice cream consumption advanced less than four percent, going from 108 million to 112 million liters. The capacity of 135 public cold stores, previously unreported, was given as three million cubic meters. The numbers of QFF and ice cream processors remained the same, at 30 and 12. One oddity: the Netherlands is second only to Germany in the number of QFF home delivery services, at 30. It also has two freezer centers.

DENMARK

It's hard to add to the comprehensive report on the Danish market in the July issue (pages 34-49), and the Danish Frozen Food Industry Council has really outdone itself this year in making statistics available.

Danish frozen food consumption, at 217,578 tons, was up 16.8% on paper - but this reflected improved reporting as well as real growth. Direct imports of QFF by wholesalers, frozen meat cutting and packaging operations at cold stores, and new products such as yogurt, mousse and gyoza, were covered for the first time in this year's report.

One can see the obvious impact of the new reporting standards in statistics for frozen meat and vegetables, which recorded increases of 29% to 75,087 tons and 23% to 59,162 tons, respectively. Such huge gains as 2,856 to 5,679 tons for chopped and shaped meat and 4,006 to 10,214 tons for pork cuts, must reflect cold store processing operations, while the phenomenal jump from 7,313 to 17,285 tons for mixed vegetables may be impacted by previously unreported direct wholesaler imports.

Ready meals, at 43,478 tons, showed a 12% increase that is probably real rather than a statistical artifact. Among the items showing the most spectacular growth were pizza, from 2,797 to 3,682 tons; other fast foods, from 2,986 to 4,811; and combination dishes with poultry (from 90 to 1,524 - plain poultry dishes declined from 13,186 to 11,780); and meat balls and dumplings, from 5,610 to 6,527.

For the first time, there was a breakdown of the frozen poultry market, which totaled 39,407 tons exclusive of poultry-based ready meals. Whole chicken accounted for most of it, 23,848 tons; chicken parts for 2,665, geese for 6,481, turkeys for 1,434, turkey parts for 3,420 and other for 1,559. The poultry market was also broken out for the first time between retail (22,856) and catering (16,551) tonnage.

Another first was a report on Danish frozen food exports, which were up 28% last year to 343,266 tons. Meat and poultry headed the list of 140,778 tons, up 24%; next came fish at 122,102 tons, up 30%. Fruit and vegetable exports, at 47,420 tons, rose 28%, and ready-meals leaped 54% to 20,611. Dough products showed a more modest increase, at 14%, to 12,355. Exports were seven times the volume of imports, which totaled 49,557 tons - mostly fruits and vegetables.

The number of frozen food processors increased from 67 to 75 last year, despite a wave of mergers in the industry, while the number of ice cream processors grew from eight to 10. Ice cream consumption, also apparently better reported, grew from 45.7 million to 53.2 million liters. Capacity of the nation's cold stores, at 1,771,000 cubic meters, is unaccountably slightly less than that reported for 1989.

SWITZERLAND

Although surrounded by countries showing substantial growth in QFF last year, Switzerland was in a virtual holding pattern, with a 0.9% tonnage increase, to 146,900.

Poultry consumption was off 8.7% to 35,600 tons, and there was also a decrease in frozen meat, to 10,600. Frozen vegetables and potato products were both up modestly to 29,800 and 29,100 tons, respectively, and fish and seafood leaped 36% to 17,400. Bakery products increased just a tad to 13,000 tons, and other categories showed little change.

Swiss ice cream consumption increased from 51.2 million to 55.5 million liters. The number of QFF and ice cream processors held steady at 42 and 12. The number of Swiss cold stores actually decreased from 123 to 119, and total capacity, at 1,200,700 cubic meters, was off by more than 50,000.

AUSTRIA

Welcome stranger! Austrian figures, reported for the first time, show a total consumption of 96,500 tons, excluding meat and poultry, up 6.6% from 1989.

Vegetables, at 39,900 tons, and potato products, at 25,800, together account for two thirds of the market - which, unlike that in neighboring Germany, is predominantly (57%) catering. Fish and seafood consumption was 12,100 tons last year, bakery products 10,400 and prepared foods 8,300.

Ice cream consumption was 53.2 million liters last year, but no 1989 figure is available for comparison. There are 45 QFF and three ice cream processors. Ownership of home freezers (66% of households) is close to that for Switzerland and western Germany, while that for microwave ovens (24%) falls between that for the two neighboring countries.

NORWAY

Marketing time for the third year in a row, the frozen food market in Norway remained virtually unchanged at 86,645 tons. But there was some realignment within the market.

Potato products, for example, were up 6.7% to 8,220 tons, bakery products 10.2% to 8,000 and poultry seven percent to 9,800. Ready meals aren't really big yet, but they showed a big increase: 41.8% to 3,410 tons. But vegetables were off 6.7% to 14,600 tons, fish 6.1% to 12,250 and meat three percent to 19,260.

Frozen fish exports jumped 30% to 320,638 tons last year, but it wasn't just on account of farmed salmon (37,874 tons). Other raw fish accounted for 196,774 tons, fillets for 42,051, and herring/herring fillets for 43,939. Frozen fish exports brought in 3,695 billion kroner, up from 2.757 billion in 1989.

FINLAND

If Finland didn't lead Europe in frozen food growth last year, it sure led its neighbors to the west, with a 4.5% increase, to 69,000 tons.

No categories particularly stood out; there were modest gains across the board for vegetables (16,400 tons), potato products (14,400), fish and seafood (11,300), poultry (12,000), etc. Per capita consumption lagged behind most of Europe.

LATVIA

Latvia Needs the Basics To Create Food Industry

Latvia will be in a position to accept foreign investments as soon as a degree of political stability comes to the Baltic states, said Latvian foreign minister Janis Jurkans. He came to Copenhagen in order to establish a government in exile, if necessary, as a result of the failed coup in the USSR. Jurkans said investments were especially needed in the food industry, adding that the development of same must begin at the source - agriculture.

Younger Latvian farmers were given plots of land after initial reforms began in the country, but there remains an acute need for agricultural machinery and expertise. Simultaneous with basic production, upgrades will be needed along the whole scale of the food industry infrastructure. Efficient means of processing, transporting and preserving foods, primarily for Latvia's 2.7 million inhabitants, are essential. The same holds true for Lithuania and Estonia.

Feeding the people, Jurkans said, was a main objective and a stabilizing factor. Once a food industry infrastructure has been established, and begins to function efficiently, the Baltic states could begin to trade internationally. Scandinavian governments established dialogue with the new Baltic governments in 1990, and chambers of commerce actively tried to promote commerce with the Baltic states. Their geographic location makes them a natural bridgehead between central-eastern Europe and Scandinavia, as well as the newly independent countries of the former USSR.

[Tabular Data Omitted] [Tabular Data Omitted] [Tabular Data Omitted] [Tabular Data Omitted] [Tabular Data Omitted] Interfrigo Traffic Declines; Eastern Europe Plummets

Frozen and refrigerated export traffic out of eastern Europe plummeted by 404,000 tons last year, according to Interfrigo, the international refrigerated rail freight consortium.

That sent overall tonnage shipped by Interfrigo down by 17.6% to 1,459,000 tons - and that was with a 93,000-ton increase in traffic from Sweden, Norway, Austria and Belgium.

The largest drop in tonnage of all was from Romania: 111,538, or 91.3% of the amount shipped in 1989. After the fall of the Ceausescu dictatorship, food exports were sharply curtailed because the food was distributed at home.

Bulgaria (down 84,810 tons) and Hungary (down 69,252) suffered mainly from declines in wine shipments, while a 53,978-ton decline for Germany resulted from banana shipments in the West being switched from Interfrigo to German Federal Railway cars, and in the East from the loss of beer exports to Hungary.

Austrian export traffic (up 26,948) benefitted from shipments of meat and butter to the USSR, while Belgium (up 54,945) cashed in on the banana express.

Indian Seafood Exports Jump Dramatically; Shrimp is King, But Finfish Nearly Doubles

Shrimp is still tops when it comes to Indian seafood exports, but the volume of fresh and frozen finfish nearly doubled last year, passing 30% of overall tonnage.

Total volume of fish and seafood exported grew 26.8% during the 1990-91 trading year, from 110,843 to 139,419 tons. Frozen shrimp exports advanced eight percent, from 57,819 to 62,377 tons.

Fresh and frozen fish export tonnage leaped from 21,227 to 42,340 tons, and from 19.15% to 30.37% of export volume. Shrimp slipped below half of all export volume for the first time, from 52.16% to 44.74%.

But shrimp is still where the money is. At 6.63 billion rupees (about $256 million), it accounted for 74.21% of export earnings this year, barely down from the 72.96% represented by 1989-90 sales of 4.63 billion rupees ($179 million).

Finfish, by contrast, brought in only 908 million rupees ($34.9 million) this year, accounting for 10.16% of export value, compared to 482 million rupees ($18.5 million) and 7.59% the previous year. Shrimp prices went up this year; finfish prices fell.

Frozen squid exports also increased, from 11,944 tons to 16,667, with value increasing from 285 million to 450 million rupees. But both frozen lobster tails and frozen cuttlefish suffered setbacks, down from 2,068 to 1,600 tons, and from 14,158 to 11,596 tons, respectively.

Singapore and Hong Kong joined Japan and the United States as major markets for Indian seafood exports. Japan's share of the export market fell from 34.97% to 27.32% in tonnage terms and from 54.43% to 51.3% in value, with actual export tonnage off slightly to 38,092 and export value up by a third to 4.58 billion rupees ($176 million).

Singapore bought 16,947 tons, up from 9,480, with the rupee value increasing from 252 million to 440 million. Hong Kong came from nowhere to buy 15,137 tons, compared to only 3,056 the year before, with rupee value up from 53 million to 172 million. But the exports to these two countries were lower value species - Singapore's share was only 4.92% this year in value, vs. 12.15% in volume; for Hong Kong, it was 1.93% vs. 10.86%.

Exports to the US increased from 13,802 to 16,155 tons, and from 783 million to 1.09 billion rupees. It was the high-ticket items that the Americans were interested in, because the rupee share for sales to the US was 12.24% - actually higher than the 11.59% tonnage share. The UK, Spain and Italy also imported high-ticket items of 7,376, 11,063 and 6,381 tons, respectively.

Domestic Output Tops Million Tons,

Imported Vegetables Slide in Japan

Domestic frozen food production in Japan topped a million tons for the first time last year, increasing 8.3% to 1,025,429, compared to 946,706 in 1989.

But imports of frozen vegetables were off 3.2% to 305,144 tons, compared to 315,354 in 1989. The overall increase in FF consumption was thus held to 5.4%, from 1,262,060 to 1,330,573 tons.

According to the Japan Frozen Food Association, the reason for the decrease in imports was "not clear." But sources in the United States suggested last year that a weaker yen was curbing Japanese purchases, and that the Japanese had overbought during the U.S. drought in 1989.

Whatever the case, Japanese processors took advantage of the situation: domestic production of frozen vegetables, which had been in the doldrums, jumped 11.8% to 101,145 tons. That meant overall frozen vegetable consumption was 406,289 tons, well ahead of that eaten in 1989.

As usual, prepared food increased its share of the overall market. Fried food production/consumption was up 13% to 360,282 tons, and other prepared food rose 8.8% to 428,526 (total up 10.6% to 788,808). Fishery products showed a 2.1% decrease, to 85,633 tons; and frozen meat fell a precipitous 33.6% to 14,594.

Retail Share Slips

Despite campaigns to get more housewives interested in frozen food, the retail share of the market continued to lose ground, with the institutional share increasing from 74.9% to 75.4%. Production of institutional tonnage was up 9.1%, vs. six percent for retail. But retail FF value, interestingly, was up 11.4% to 154.9 billion yen, whereas institutional value was up only 9.2% - prices, that is, remained virtually unchanged.

Overall production value was 567.4 billion yen, up 9.8%. The value of imported vegetables at 60 billion yen, was up 7.3% from 1989, despite the decrease in tonnage. Prices evidently had a lot to do with the decline in frozen fishery products, since the value was up 6.5% to 85.2 billion yen. Frozen meat prices, on the other hand, declined even faster (38%) than production. Most increases were modest, but confectionery prices were up more than 20%.

In individual items, the largest gains included 29.6%, to 63,017 tons, for rice dishes; 29.6%, to 41,453 tons, for noodle dishes, and 65.9%, to 11,412 tons, for Chinese buns. In the fried food area, the largest gain was 37%, to 72,370 tons, "other fried food, tempura." This presumably covers breaded and battered products, but evidently not battered or breaded fish. Declines in squid and shellfish accounted for all of the fall in fishery products; other items were up.

Fries Up, Imports Down

Domestic corn production, although tiny, was up 78% to 9,451 tons (imports also increased, 5.3%, to 35,408 tons). Output of French fries jumped 22.7% to 21,180 (imports were off 5.6% to 130,794). Other potato products, increased 13.8% to 15,956 tons. Other imports included 40,071 tons of green beans, up 17%; 47,575 tons of other beans, down four percent; and 51,296 tons of miscellaneous vegetables, down 13.5%.

The United States was still by far the largest exporter of frozen foods to Japan last year, shipping 167,388 tons. Next came Taiwan at 65,143 tons, China at 23,767, New Zealand at 18,819 and Canada at 14,035.

Rising Thai Frozen Chicken Output Finds Especially Hungry Buyers in Japan

While Thailand's prawn-raising prowess is known worldwide, the Southeast Asian nation is also a plentiful producer of poultry. Indeed, brisk exports of frozen chicken earned over 2,904 million baht during the first five months of 1990. That pace, if maintained, could have matched the 6,069 million baht earned from foreign sales during record-setting 1989.

In the past five years, Thailand has become the third largest frozen chicken exporter in Asia and the sixth biggest in the world. Deboned product accounts for 90% of the volume, and Japan buys 90% of all tonnage sold abroad. An estimated 253,000 tons was produced last year.

With USA broiler suppliers diverting large shipments to the Soviet Union, the Japanese market was very demanding during the first half of 1990. Buyers there ordered Thai chicken for $2,300 to $2,400 a ton (CIF) "without a strong attempt to haggle down prices as was often the case in the past," reported the Bangkok Post. Exports slowed during much of the second half due to seasonal factors, before picking up again during the year-end holiday period.

The Thai broiler and frozen chicken industry is largely dominated by eight major vertically integrated groups. They are: Charoen Pokphand (CP), Saha Farm Co. Ltd., General Foods, Sri Thai, Sentago, Laeem Thong, P. Charoenphan, and Betagro.

A spokesman from the CP Group estimated that frozen chicken exports hit upwards of 120,000 tons in 1990. Shipments to the European Community grew by as much as 30%, with Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium being the chief markets. Frozen deboned and yakitori style cuts are the most popular products.

Good Prospects Ahead

Dr. Panya Chotitawan, president of Saha Farm, foresees even greater prospects for Thai producers over the next five years. This will be especially so in the Japanese market if packers in the United States continue to shift interest from Japan to the Soviet Union. Another leading producer, Brazil, is expected to experience substantially slower growth now that government subsidies to farmers there are being scaled back.

Dr. Panya said that Japanese investors have met with little success in supporting Mexican poultry raisers as a way to diversify their supply lines. And high wages in Japan coupled with severely limited and expensive real estate make serious domestic production out of the question.

The only real threat at the moment to Thai exports comes from China. However, according to Panya, although that country enjoys geographical proximity to Japan, its processors have thus far been unable to provide consistency of quality.

Still, a steady rise in Thai labor rates has processors concerned about maintaining their levels of foreign sales. Not only is low cost producer China making inroads into the all-important Japanese market, but so is Indonesia.

Thai Fish Exports Forecast At 324,000 Tons, $1 Billion

Fish and seafood exports from Thailand this year are expected to reach 324,000 tons, valued at 25.9 billion baht (just a tad shy of $1 billion), according to the Thai Commerce Ministry.

Estimate export volume for 1990 was 302,600 tons, including 77,600 tons of frozen prawns, 65,000 tons of frozen cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish and octopus) and 160,000 tons of frozen fish.

Prawns account for most of the export value - 17.85 billion baht last year out of a total of 24.35 billion, vs. 4.5 billion for cephalopods and $2 billion for fish. This year's projections are 19.2 million for prawns, 4.3 million for cephalopods and 2.4 million for fish.

Thailand is one of the countries that has taken up the slack left by the implosion of the shrimpfarming industry on Taiwan a few years ago. Prawn farms have spread from 163,000 rai in 1980 to 420,000 last year, when production is said to have reached 83,823 tons. But concerns have been expressed recently that this may all be too much, and that aquaculture threatens to wipe out the country's coastal mangrove forests.

Chilean Fruit and Vegetable Exports Top 20,000 Tons; U.S. Top Market

Frozen fruit and vegetable exports from Chile reached 21,042 tons last year, with the United States as the largest single market - but far from the only one.

Over the last three years, Europe as a whole accounted for 59.4% of export sales, compared to 21.2% for the USA alone, according to Chile's Asociacion Gremial de Exportadores de Productos Congelados (AGEPCO), the Frozen Food Products Exporters Association.

Germany was the second-largest single country over three years, at 14.9% of exports, followed closely by the Netherlands at 13.2%. The UK accounted for 11.3%, France for 7.9%, Italy for 7.1% and Japan for 6.8%, AGEPCO reported. Other markets included Belgium, Brazil and Canada.

Frozen fruits, at 16,621 tons last year, were far ahead of frozen vegetables as export commodities. Raspberries soared to first place among all export products, with a 1990 total of 6,333 tons. Second was blackberries at 3,919 tons - but with a smaller increase over 1989. Grapes, kiwifruit and melon were relatively small categories.

On the frozen vegetable side, it was asparagus that led the pack at 2,140 tons last year - more than twice the total of 1,027 tons for sweet corn, which was recovering from a setback in 1989. Broccoli was third at 764 tons - more than double its 1989 performance - and there were small shipments of green pepper and green beans.

For the past three years as a whole, asparagus accounted for 36% of all frozen vegetable exports, sweet corn for 31.3% and broccoli for 13.2%. Raspberries led frozen fruit exports at 32.7%, followed by blackberries at 26.2% and melon at 9.2%.

Freezing Capacity Zooms

Freezing capacity in Chile since 1985 has soared from 26,500 tons to 150,000, Werner Kulenkampff, president of AGEPCO, told Quick Frozen Foods International, thanks to tremendous investments in the industry. There are 32 QFF plants operating now, he said. Equipment includes cryogenic tunnels as well as flow freezers and blast freezers. Plants are sited throughout the country's fruit and vegetable reasons.

Already the largest fresh fruit producer in the southern Hemisphere, with 1990-91 exports of 116 million boxes, Chile continues to expand its frozen exports, which are projected at 30,000 tons of fruits and vegetables this year. [Tabular Data Omitted]
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Title Annotation:frozen foods industry
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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