Forward information
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Ensuring that good, accurate forward information reaches the merchants is the combined responsibility of all players in the supply chain.  Knowing whether sufficient supplies of Icelandic fish will be on the market is imperative for merchants when deciding whether to source supply from elsewhere.  Information on species, volume, container details, catching vessel and expected arrival time to the UK needs to be fed initially to the UK sales agent and is the responsibility of the individual fishing vessel.  The agent can then collate this information from all vessels and feed overall expected supply to the merchants.

It can be debated weather it is profitable for vessel owners to inform UK producers on expected supply on some occasions, when lack of information could possibly return higher prices.  But in the long run it is more likely that reliable information will contribute to more stable prices, which benefits suppliers and processors alike.

Ideally UK processors would like to receive forward information on expected supplies in the following week no later than on a Wednesday, so they can attempt to supply from other sources if expected supply is scarce.  It is however virtually impossible to give accurate information on expected supply when the vessels are still out fishing.  But it though should be possible to give some indications as soon as on a Wednesday, with a more accurate update on a Friday.  The auction markets are trying to do just that, by posting information on their web pages here and here, also by sharing information through e-mail and fax to those who that prefer.  It is also possible for processors to monitor expected supply by looking at reported exports at the homepage of the Directorate of Fisheries, but export of unprocessed fish needs to be reported to the Directorate at least 24 hours before it departs from Iceland.  The information is only available in Icelandic, but UK processors should have no problem figuring out the basic message of the information.  The purpose of these “forward export reports” is to allow domestic processors the opportunity to bid on the catch before it leaves the country.  Exporters are obliged to name a minimum price and domestic processors are then able to bid on it online, information on supply and minimum prices can be viewed here.

It happens quite often during the winter time that the cargo vessels are delayed.  This delay can cause considerable difficulties for processors, particularly if the Sunday vessel does not make the Monday morning auction.  It is of course difficult to change this, because the delays are generally caused by bad weather; but improved information sharing on possible delays could minimise the damage or limit the frustration of everyone affected.  The shipping companies try to inform clients on delays as soon as possible and have even posted real-time location of the vessels on the web, so processors should know if delays are imminent.

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