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GLOBEFISH - Analysis and information on world fish trade

Bivalves market very positive

29/05/2018

Demand for bivalves is growing worldwide. All major consuming countries reported high requests for bivalve products. Production is increasing, but it is generally not enough to completely meet the world demand, leading to growing prices in all major markets.

Mussel industry bound to grow

The Chilean mussel industry reported a record year in 2017, with production exceeding 300 000 tonnes, after low production in 2016. Contrary to all the other major producing countries, all this production goes to exports, making Chile the world’s major exporter of mussels. In 2017, exports reached 70 000 tonnes meat weight, an 18 percent increase over 2016. Spain is the main market for Chilean mussels, importing 15 000 tonnes in 2017, a 25 percent growth from 2016. These mussels are mainly used in the canning industry, and compete there heavily with the domestic mussels produced in the Galician fjords. Other major importing countries of Chilean mussels are the United States of America, France, and Italy. These three countries reported stable imports of Chilean mussels in 2017. However, the Russian Federation is becoming an important outlet for Chilean mussels, importing some 9 000 tonnes in 2017, a 51 percent increase from 2016.

Similar to Chile, New Zealand is producing mainly for the export market. In recent years, after a boom in the 1990s, these exports have been stable at USD 180 million. Main importing countries are the United States of America, China and Thailand. This stagnant situation is about to change this year, as the mussel industry in New Zealand is about to change significantly, using new technologies, such as hatchery-bred mussel spat. Mussel aquaculture growth is set to boost New Zealand seafood exports in 2018.

The outlook for mussel production is positive also in all other mussel culturing countries, but demand is likely to exceed production growth, and prices are forecast to increase even further in the coming months.

Price of oysters sky-high and likely to grow further

Oysters are an upper end product, with consumers willing to pay high prices. Overall world trade of this commodity is rather limited at 70 000 tonnes. France is the main exporting country of oysters, though being only number five among the producing countries. In 2017, the country exported 12 000 tonnes, 20 percent more than in 2016. France is also a major importer of oysters, with 8 000 tonnes in 2017. Demand for oysters is growing in the United States of America, the world’s major importing country with 12 000 tonnes last year. In addition to imports, the country is also trying to boost domestic production. Maine oyster is a new industry that has been growing rapidly, with massive expansion. However, demand is still higher than what the supply is able to meet, so prices continue to grow, oyster is sold by the number rather than by the dozen or in bags as on the US West Coast, which indicates that oysters are considered a top seafood item in New York and other East Coast cities. With the economic growth forecasted for 2018, further increase in demand for oysters is likely to materialize, especially during the holiday months.

China imports less scallops

World imports of scallops declined sharply in 2017, as China, the main world’s importer of this species, reported a 24 percent drop in their imports. China still represents about one quarter of the world’s imports of scallops. The decline in Chinese demand for foreign scallops was caused by an increase in domestic production. The United States of America reported an 18 percent decline in scallop imports. France was the only importing country reporting higher demand for external scallops. Scallops are the fourth largest seafood import into France, after shrimp, tuna and salmon. In 2017 French imports of scallops from Argentina boomed to 3 000 tonnes, while Peru which used to be the main exporter lost ground, due to a failure in the Peruvian scallop production in 2016-early 2017. The Peruvian scallop industry is likely to recover ground in 2018.

Clams

Clam overall world imports are increasing, though the two main clam importing countries, Japan and the Republic of Korea, reported stable imports in 2017. Total world imports reached 280 000 tonnes last year, a 6 percent growth over 2016. This increase in imports was mainly due to import rises in southern European countries such as Spain and Italy. Both countries have important aquaculture and capture clam fisheries, but in recent years this production was not enough to meet demand. Spanish imports of clams reached 38 700 tonnes in 2017, a 14 percent increase over 2016. China and the Republic of Korea are the main clam exporting countries, followed by Canada. In Canada, the 30-year monopoly of Clearwater Seafoods over the Artic surf clam has allowed the company to harvest up to 38 000 tonnes of clams. In 2018, there will be an allocation of 8 700 tonnes to a First Nations-owned company. The impact of this decision for the world clam market is still to be seen.

Outlook continues strong

Further increase in demand for bivalves is expected for the holiday period in North America and in Europe. There seems to be no limit to the price expectations by traders. Bivalves are also increasingly being used in the preparation of ready meals, being one of the most versatile products for diversification of product presentation.

The report analyses the market situation over the year 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.

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