Chilean mussel volumes to go up

The mollusc industry is not likely to have an easy year. There is no sign of a recovery in the volume of scallops offered for sale on the main markets.

Supplies of oysters have dropped with prices remaining strong. In terms of regulatory trade impact, the effects have yet to be seen following the authorization by the EU last April approving the export of live bivalve molluscs from Chile to the EU market. 



At the last European Mollusc Producers Association (EMPA) meeting in June, several controversial topics were discussed including an update of the complaint made against Chile for “dumping mussels on the EU market,” the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers reported.

The competitive threat posed by Chile to the European nations might be diminished in the short term as this year’s mussel seed collection has fallen dramatically (by 30%) in the main mussel harvest region (Los Lagos) for reasons that are not entirely clear. Following this, companies are expecting a reduction of 30% on volumes in 2012 and this could become more critical in 2013, with a 60 or 70% decrease in production. Local authorities are exploring the causes of this phenomenon and looking for new areas in which to authorize the capture of mussel seeds. The possibility of building a hatchery is not yet economically feasible.

However, at the end of 2012, Chilean production will achieve more or less the same volumes as in a normal year, because there is a significant amount of mussels already growing and producers are waiting for prices to go up. Concerns about the demand in European markets still remain. According to Infotrade, Chile’s mussel exports decreased in value by 22.5% during the first five months of 2012 when compared with the same period in 2011. Brazil and Japan could be the new markets for Chilean mussels, following the pattern of the salmon industry earlier.
In contrast, in Galicia, Spain, mussel farmers welcomed the measures taken by the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament in June approving a regulation that considers mussels to be among the products that may be eligible for subsidies to avoid price drops. This means that producers will be able to receive financing for storing mussels in case prices fall drastically, so that a reduction in incomes is avoided.



Scallop imports decreased in the main European markets by 12% between January and March 2012, when compared with the previous period. In France, during the first three months, imports were reduced by 22% compared with the same period in 2011. Peruvian scallops decreased their presence in France and Italy, while an increase of 20% in prices in the European market was seen. Argentina kept its supply volume, almost 1 000 tonnes, including the MSC re-certified Patagonian scallops.

In UK, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) reported that the number of vessels targeting scallops decreased by 40% from 2001 to 2011. However, in Spain, the presence of scallops from the UK increased from 163 tonnes to 237 tonnes in the first quarter of 2012.

In 2011, Japan farmed scallops production in Aomori prefecture totalled 34 128 tonnes, which was 51% less than previous year and the worst landing volume in 10 years. The high sea water temperature was the main reason for this high rate of mortality.


Preference for Local in Spain

A study led by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA) and the Catalan business competitiveness support agency (ACC1Ó), explored consumer preferences for mussels in Catalonia. Results showed that product presentation was the most valued attribute and that they preferred mussels produced in Catalonia. This may be due to the fact that fresh products were most sought after, while frozen mussels are less popular and consumers are not willing to pay high prices for them. Mussels from Galicia also scored positively, but mussels from Dutch origins did not.

The Fish Wholesalers Union of Barcelona in Mercabarna (Spain) is trying to increase mussel sales by 20% in 2012 by reviving traditional Catalonian recipes for using mussels. Every year in Mercabarna 2 600 tonnes of mussels are sold.


FDA orders Korean molluscs to be removed from market

On 1 May 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed all Republic of Korea certified shippers of mollusc shellfish from the Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List (ICSSL), following a comprehensive FDA evaluation that determined that the Korean Shellfish Sanitation Program (KSSP) no longer meets the sanitation controls spelled out under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. Taiwan Province of China has said it may also remove fish and seafood products from the Republic of Korea from its store shelves for the same reason.

Recent Predictions

In some areas of Galicia, major losses in the mollusc sector are predicted. However, the absence of marine biotoxins during the summer may suggest that the sale of molluscs will have a positive effect on the canning industry this year. The Scottish government wants to increase shellfish production and has proposed that aquaculture production of these resources be doubled by 2020.