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GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

European Seabass and Gilthead seabream - February 2011


Improved balance between demand and supply should lead to a stronger market in 2011 and firmer prices compared with those in 2010

Although the prospects for the bass and bream sector are notoriously hard to forecast because of the uncertainly in biomass estimates, it looks likely that production will fall slightly in 2011, mainly because of tight liquidity among many producers in countries such as Greece and Spain, and challenging demand prospects in several major markets. However, outside investors see strong long-term potential in the sector and in particular, Greek companies such as Nireus, Dias and Selonda were able to attract foreign capital during 2010. Also of note was the takeover of Norwegian group Marine Farms, which controls Spanish bass and bream producer Culmarex, by the large Polish-based salmon processor Morpol.

The market in November was characterized by continued downward price pressure, especially for seabass. For large volume sales, exceptionally low prices were obtained by several large retail chains that were able to benefit from the need for cash-flow by many of the Greek producers in particular. Price levels as low as EUR 3.70 for 300-400 gr seabass and EUR 3.90 for seabream were reported in the market. December demand was up from the previous month, which normally is one of the slowest of the year. However, prices did not increase much as supply was still ample. Looking back at prices for 2010, seabream prices have been better than in 2009. The big disappointment was the decline in the price of bass, which dropped not only much lower than usual but also lower than that of bream, an unusual situation.


Strong growth in Italy despite hard times 

Import of bass and bream rose a healthy 15% in volume and 22% in value during the January-September 2010 period. Greece is the predominant supplier with Turkey as a distant second. Turkey’s exports to Italy of bream rose somewhat in 2010 whereas bass shipments dropped drastically.

Difficult economic situation in Spain causes import volumes to fall

Sluggish demand in the Spanish market resulted in slightly lower imported volumes of bass and bream during the first 9 months of 2010 (-2%). Because of higher average prices compared with 2009, total import values went up 6%. The main supplier is Greece, which somewhat surprisingly managed to increase its shipments to Spain during the nine month period. On the positive side, importers and Spanish aquaculture farmers welcomed the communication from the European Food Safety Authority in October 2010 highlighting the beneficial health effects of regular consumption of fish. Industry operators believe that this will encourage consumers to increase their consumption also of bass and bream and plan to emphasize the message in their communication strategy to attract consumers.

French market markedly weaker during 2010 

The French market turned strongly negative in the first nine months of 2010. A somewhat weaker market was observed already in the second quarter but manifested itself more forcefully in the third. Total import volumes for the nine month period fell almost 10%. As a result of higher average prices, the value of imports rose during the same period by 14%. Higher unit prices are also part of the reason for the fall in imports.


Despite the uncertain economic situation with large cuts in government spending in 2010 and 2011, UK import volumes of bass increased by a healthy 18% during the first three quarters in 2010. Bream imports were virtually unchanged.

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