GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Global fish production is expected to increase by some 2.1 percent in 2018


This report analyses the market situation until June 2018.  

Capture fisheries production growth will remain limited, while a continuation of the 4–5 percent annual increase in aquaculture production means the sector is now close to becoming the major source of fish for all purposes.

Aquaculture already provides us with around 55 percent of the fish we consume directly and it is the increased availability of farmed fish together with strengthening demand in developing economies that is driving a 1 percent increase in per capita consumption of fish per year, accompanied by a simultaneous rise in the proportion of production utilized for direct human consumption. International seafood trade is set to expand by 7.5 percent in US dollar terms in 2018, due to the combined effect of a weaker US currency, record high prices for a number of species and generally favourable economic conditions in key markets. This is largely in line with last year, despite escalation of the trade war between the United States of America and China, which has seen tariffs applied to multiple seafood items in both countries. Given their considerable combined importance, this is a development with significant consequences for the wider seafood market, but the full impact is unlikely to be felt until 2019 when the scheduled tariff hike in the United States of America takes effect. For individual species, the implications will depend on the relative global diversity of producers and markets. A reduction in trade is likely wherever alternative options are limited. It also appears that fish exported by the United States of America to China for processing and re-export, such as salmon and Alaska pollock, will generally be exempt from the tariffs.

The FAO Fish Price Index fell back slightly in the second quarter of 2018 after hitting record heights in March this year, but in relative terms, prices remain high for a range of heavily traded species groups. Producers of salmon, cephalopods, groundfish, small pelagics and pangasius are all seeing export revenues rise as a result. Norway continues to benefit from good prices for salmon, cod and small pelagics, in addition to favourable currency trends. Export value is also expected to increase for shrimp producers such as India, Viet Nam, Indonesia and Ecuador in 2018, but this is driven more by farmed shrimp production hikes rather than higher price levels. In China, the world’s largest exporter of seafood, high prices and good demand from regional trading partners is forecast to see the total value of China’s exports rise by some 6 percent in 2018.

EU28 imports of fish and fish products are expected to continue growing in US dollar terms in 2018 as generally stable economic conditions prevail, though the strengthening of the euro versus the US dollar compared with last year is a significant contributing factor to the increase. In the United States of America, import growth is projected to slow somewhat in 2018, but remains significantly positive due in large part to strong demand for salmon and a recovery of the canned tuna market. Meanwhile, Asian growth continues to be led by China in absolute terms, but percentage gains are higher in the Republic of Korea and fast-evolving seafood markets in the ASEAN bloc. Globally, seafood consumers are increasingly concerned with both sustainability and convenience, offering opportunities for differentiation and product innovation in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Reduced quotas and generally tighter supply is expected to continue in 2019 for various important wild stocks, including cod, Alaska pollock, octopus, mackerel, herring, squid and octopus. The outlook for the second anchoveta fishing season in 2018 remains good following positive biomass assessments, but a possible El Niño event may negatively affect the outlook for 2019 for this key South American fishery.

Production growth is slowing in the medium-term for many important farmed species, including salmon, tilapia and pangasius. This tightening of supply for many important species is expected to support prices for most fish and fishery products at relatively high levels in 2019, although plentiful harvests of shrimp worldwide make it a notable exception. On the downside, a forecast slowdown in economic growth in many markets and the introduction of tariff barriers in the United States of America and China is likely to slow the current rate of expansion in international seafood trade, particularly if the Chinese yuan weakens significantly. In the short-term, end-of-year demand will kickstart upward trends in prices for many seafood items as we move through the last quarter of 2018.

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