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GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

New product development for bivalves

11/04/2019

Demand for bivalves is currently strong, and prices are increasing for all products. Product diversification is taking place, to find consumers among the younger generations. These efforts are being successful and these new products are likely to dominate the markets in coming years. There is no major impediment to increased bivalve production in all main producing countries, as fish farms further away from the coast can operate. Investments and changes in legislation are taking place in the United States of America at the moment, and other countries are likely to follow suit, given the interesting prices of bivalves worldwide.

Mussels

The EU28 and France in particular are major world importers of mussels. Mussels represent nearly onethird of all aquaculture products sold in the European Union (Member Organization). European production has fallen slightly, while consumption has increased, hence the rise in imports from outside the EU28. Virtually all mussels used in prepared fresh tapas, tinned, and frozen products are imported.

French imports in the first nine months of 2018 was stable at 48 000 tonnes, in line with the corresponding volume in 2017. France imports live mussels from other European countries, particularly the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Smaller imports are taken from countries including the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark. Imports of frozen mussels in various formats originate in Chile and New Zealand. 

Scallops

China is by far the main scallop producer worldwide, with 1.9 million tonnes production per year, which represents over 90 percent of the world scallop production. Most of this production is consumed domestically and therefore trade is limited. In early 2018, some scallop farms experienced problems with high mortalities. This mortality was due to a combination of factors, namely, an increase in water temperature (both surface and bottom water temperatures were higher than normal), a decrease in rainfall (67 percent of the longterm average) and a major reduction in plankton abundance (less than 50 percent of the longterm average). The US New England scallop production reached 27 000 tonnes in 2018, 13 percent higher than in 2017, and one of the highest results in recent years. Several areas off the coast of New England are no-take zones and the fishing days are restricted, both measures seem to have paid off in terms of sustainability of the resource.

Clams

Clam trade was stable in the first nine months of 2018, with China as main supplier, and Japan and the Republic of Korea as main importing countries. Prices of live clams in the EU28 continue to be high, often exceeding EUR 15.00 per kg, which makes clams one of the highest priced seafood products, considering the low yield in edible weight of the product. 

Oysters

Oysters have a great market potential, being one of the highest regarded seafood items in terms of consumer appreciation. France is among the main exporters of this product. Demand for oysters was high during the 2018 festive season. Prices were firmer in December of 2018 than during December of 2017, due to high mortalities in France during the 2018 summer and strong international demand for the product.

Outlook

Mussel aquaculture is expanding worldwide, and growth is likely in the near future. Demand for mussels for human consumption is strong and new consumers are entering this market. Mussels have uses other than for human consumption, including mussel powder employed in the pharmaceutical industry for its anti-inflammatory properties. Mussels and other bivalves produced in the aquaculture industry are perceived as an environmentally friendly product as it does not need feed and they clean the water instead of creating problems with sewage or waste water as other aquaculture industries do. Overall, the future is bright for mussel producers and the press is full of new investment in this segment of the aquaculture sector.

Mussel products are very innovative, and consumers in the EU28 are moving from traditional live products to more value-added products such as canned mussels, along with a wide variety of soups, terrines, patés, and other products. This segment can be supplied by imports from outside the EU28, a market segment set to strongly increase in coming years. Scallop production in New England in 2019 is expected to remain at the high levels reached in 2018, with quotas of about 27 000 tonnes allocated to fishers. Chinese scallop production will be impacted in the coming two years by the dying of young scallops experienced in early 2018.

Oysters and clam prices are likely to be lower in the first quarter of 2019, as these months are not the main consuming period. In the long run, demand will increase, and some price hikes are expected for clams in the summer months. 

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