Oceana Group’s Namibia’s horse mackerel volumes landed improved by 40 % with an increase in both sea days and catch rates. Fishing days in the prior period were impeded by scheduled vessel maintenance, the group said in the interim results for the six months ended 31 March 2023.
Oceana said horse mackerel volumes caught in South Africa were 52.1% down on the prior period. The 30.3% lower catch rate was due to La Niña climatic conditions, and the associated higher sea temperatures, extending into 2023 and the Desert Diamond undergoing a planned main engine overhaul. In Namibia, horse mackerel volumes landed improved by 40.0% with an increase in both sea days and catch rates. Fishing days in the prior period were impeded by scheduled vessel maintenance.
Hake catches reduced by 35% due to both fewer fishing days and poorer catch rates. The reduction in fishing days resulted from a combination of both planned and unplanned vessel maintenance in the half.
The group said following the successful renewal of fishing rights for 15 years, the group has commenced with its programme to upgrade and enhance its hake fishing fleet.
“The cost of operating the horse mackerel and hake fleet continued to be hampered by high fuel costs in the period. Horse mackerel and hake sales volumes in total remained flat at 29 920 tons (March 2022: 29 771 tons). Strong demand for affordable protein together with the weaker rand effect on export revenue resulted in horse mackerel and hake rand prices improving by 17.7% and 20.6% respectively,” Oceana said.
Higher sales volumes and strong European demand and pricing resulted in an improved performance for squid in the period, the company said.
The group said it delivered a strong performance in tough operating conditions which saw consumers under ever increasing pressure from rising interest rates, lower disposable income, high inflation and the effects of increased loadshedding in South Africa.
“This performance highlights the strength of being a diversified group across species, geographies and currencies. Higher opening inventory levels of canned fish, fishmeal and fish oil, strong demand for canned fish and continued price improvements for most of its products, particularly fish oil, enabled the Group to counter the effects of these tough operating conditions.”
In terms of revenue from continuing operations increased by 47.8% to N$4.5 billion (March 2022: N$3.0 billion) with good stock availability and strong demand for affordable protein driving consumption across the product range.
Revenue also benefitted from improved pricing, particularly for fish oil, driven by constrained global supply and the effect of the weaker rand exchange rate on export and US-dollar translated revenue.
Operating profit from continuing operations increased by 87.5% to N$648 million (March 2022: N$345 million) and by 92.7% to N$663 million (March 2022: N$344 million) from total operations.
Gross margin from continuing operations remained flat at 27.1% (March 2022: 27.2%) with strong fishmeal and fish oil pricing in US-dollar terms offset by the effect of the weaker currency on the cost of imported frozen fish for Lucky Star.
Lucky Star’s sales volumes increased by 20.9%, achieving a record 5 million cartons (March 2022: 4.2 million cartons). Improved opening inventory levels ensured growing demand for affordable and shelf-stable protein was fully met.
“The improvement in selling price over the period was, however, insufficient to offset cost pressures, particularly the impact of the weaker rand/US-dollar exchange rate on the cost of imported frozen fish. This resulted in lower operating margins in comparison to the prior period,” the company said.