Trade and Markets

The forecasted growth in farmed Atlantic production in Norway this year is marginally below last year at around 4%. However, so far, significantly higher volumes have been absorbed by the markets, leading to expectations for a tighter supply situation in the second half of 2015. In Chile, harvest volumes have shown a sharp decline compared with last year, but a weak economy in Brazil, volcano eruptions, customs strikes and a buyer backlash over higher antibiotic use have complicated operations and kept demand low. Meanwhile, the wild salmon markets are braced for what are expected to be abnormally large global harvests for multiple species, boosting supply further in what is already a buyer’s market.

In the first half of 2015, global production of farmed shrimp was lower than the same time period last year, particularly with less than expected harvests in Asia. Production in Ecuador was higher during this period, with Viet Nam as their top export market. Shrimp prices plummeted by 15-20% in international trade compared with the first six months of 2014 as a result of the supply and demand disparity in the USA, the EU and Japan. For exports, India, Indonesia and Thailand managed to increase their volumes to the USA, albeit with plummeting export revenues. There were also higher imports to Viet Nam, the Republic of Korea and China during this period.

During the third quarter of 2015, frozen skipjack prices increased strongly by almost 50%, but started to decline in October. In the first half of 2015, the sashimi tuna market in Japan remained weak. For the first time in history, US imports of air-flown fresh tuna were higher than that of Japan something that could become a common feature in the future as well. For canned tuna, export earnings suffered in Asia and Latin America during the first six months of the year, as traditional markets in the USA and EU remained lacklustre. Import growth only persisted in the Middle Eastern markets.

Russia and the USA are preparing to cooperate in order to fight IUU crab fishing. This may lead to tighter supplies as illegal crab could be removed from the market.

After a year of lower harvests, firming prices and relived pressure on producer margins, 2016 has started off well with a sharp upturn in seabass and seabream prices on European markets. Further reductions in supply from the major sources should see this situation continue, giving a further boost to the expanding Turkish industry and allowing Greek companies the opportunity to build on what are now more solid foundations.

News in the salmon sector for 2016 has so far been dominated by reports of a massive algal bloom in southern Chile that had killed some 27 million fish by 10 March. Compounded by an expected drop in production in Norway where growth is currently limited by sea lice issues, the supply shock has driven up previously depressed Chilean farmed salmon prices while already high Norwegian prices have been pushed even further upwards.

On June 23, UK citizens in a national referendum voted to leave the European Union. Such a move, if implemented, has global implications economically, geopolitically, even militarily. The vote caused stock markets to churn worldwide, while Fortune 500 corporations set strategic plans into motion and politicians alternately cheered and blamed.

Seafood continues to remain limited on the menus of many fast food restaurants, which are frequently focused on meat products, in Europe as well as globally. Yet increasing demands for convenient food options, coupled with growing desires for healthy and “real” food, show the potential for an increase in seafood available at quick service restaurants.

A recent seminar to discuss the perspectives of the fishmeal and fish oil industry organised by the Nordic Marine Think Tank and EUFishmeal with support from the Nordic Council of Ministers showed that the sector faced both challenges and opportunities.

Today the environment in which fishmeal and oil manufacturers operate is in a state of flux. On the one hand aquaculture production is expanding globally, on the other fish feed manufacturers are using less and less fishmeal and fish oil in their products as alternatives become available. New markets for fish oil and fishmeal are opening up in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and other specialised industries, yet at the same time the supply and prices of fishmeal and fish oil fluctuate. The regulatory framework, issues of food security, climate change, technological development, and stakeholder views, none of which is static, contribute to the constantly changing circumstances which the industry must negotiate.

Over 14 million tonnes of bivalves are produced by aquaculture every year. However, the share of bivalves entering international trade is relatively small, as most of the production is consumed within the production country. This is especially true for the top world producer, China, which produces over 80 percent of the world's bivalves, but consumes almost all of this production domestically. The amounts that do enter into international trade include about 200 000 tonnes of mussels per year, 180 000 tonnes of clams, 150 000 tonnes of scallops, and 50 000 tonnes of oysters. These figures demonstrate that less than 5 percent of world bivalve production enters international trade, one of the lowest proportions in the whole seafood trade. This is due to the very nature of bivalves, which are highly perishable and potentially risky for human health if not properly handled.

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