Low squid and octopus catches lead to high prices


The report analyses the market situation until June 2017. 

The world market is characterized by low supplies of both octopus and squid, and rising prices. In China, demand is strong, and the Chinese consumer is willing to pay high prices, which hurts the European and US markets. The United States of America is importing more, but is offered mainly low quality products.


The second Moroccan octopus season was recently delayed until 15 June in the Atlantic, while the fishery in the Mediterranean started on 1 June. A fall in Moroccan catches of octopus caused prices to rise significantly, as demand is also very high at present. Catches during the winter were low, and thus cold storage holdings have also been low, pushing prices up. Moroccan octopus prices have risen by more than eur1.00 per kg during recent months. Present prices are the highest on record. Prices for Mauritanian octopus are at the same level as in morocco. Demand, particularly in the United States of America, has recently been exceptionally strong, which naturally has pushed prices up (undercurrent news). These high prices also seem to have attracted traders who are not normally dealing in cephalopods.

The national aquaculture and fisheries commission of Mexico (CONAPESCA) has announced that Mexico is now the third largest producer of octopus in the world. The country's octopus production increased by 14 000 tonnes between 2013 and 2016, and the value of this production increased from us$34.6 million to us$66.0 million. In 2016, octopus exports, mainly to Spain, Italy and the United States of America, amounted to 10 800 tonnes worth us$57 million. The Mexican octopus fishery is concentrated mainly on two species: Mexican four-eyed octopus (octopus maya) and the common octopus (octopus vulgaris).

There was a major drop in imports of octopus into japan during the first quarter of 2017; total imports fell by 33.6 percent, to just 8 900 tonnes. All the major suppliers experienced a drop in shipments. Morocco remained the major supplier, accounting for 38 percent of the total, followed by china with 32.6 percent, and Viet nam with 14.6 percent.
This development confirms the trend over the past three years. In 2015, Japanese octopus imports during the first quarter of the year amounted to 15 000 tonnes. In 2016, this figure fell to 13 400 tonnes (-10.7 percent), and in 2017, it fell further to 8 900 tonnes (-33.6 percent).

In Spain, in contrast, there was an 11 percent increase in octopus imports during the first quarter, with total imports amounting to 18 000 tonnes. Thus, Spanish imports have continued the trend of slow, but steady growth in octopus imports. Morocco remains the major supplier followed by Mauritania.


The Federal Fishing Council of Argentina recently announced that the squid fishery north of latitude 44°S would be closed from 19 June until further notice. The background for the closure was that catches registered consisted mostly of small, immature individuals. Furthermore, landing records showed that Illex catches had declined during the last few months; in February, 24 000 tonnes were landed; in March, 39 263 tonnes; in April, 15 900 tonnes; and in May, only 6 500 tonnes. The situation outside the Argentine 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was similar. Up to 5 June, a total of 96 200 tonnes of squid had been landed. This represents a doubling of the volume landed by the same time last year.
Last year, US imports of processed Illex squid from China increased by over 11 percent, to 38 000 tonnes. At the same time, prices also rose significantly (+28 percent). Imports of processed Loligo squid rose to 14 000 tonnes in 2016. However, the quality of the imported squid was not good, according to several importers. The traders believe that the good quality squid is sold on the domestic Chinese market, while the lower quality squid goes to Western markets, which cannot pay the high prices charged in China. In 2016, 68 percent of the Loligo squid imported into the United States of America come from China, while only 1.0 percent came from Taiwan Province of China, 13.5 percent from Thailand and 15.3 percent from India.

This above described decline in landings from April onward caused prices to soar, but in June, it was reported that prices were stabilizing again. Prices have risen particularly in the Chinese market. While prices are now slightly more stable, there is still some worry about supplies. Demand is high, but supplies are scarce. Imports into China have picked up to some extent over the past month, but not enough to fully satisfy demand.

During the first quarter of 2017, there was a massive increase in Japanese imports of squid and cuttlefish, from just 6 200 tonnes during the first quarter of 2016 to 34 300 tonnes during the same period in 2017. This was caused mainly by an impressive increase in Chinese exports to the Japanese market, which grew from 2 600 tonnes in this period in 2016 to 20 400 tonnes in the first quarter of 2017. Other suppliers also registered growth in exports to Japan.

Republic of Korea's imports of squid and cuttlefish during the first quarter of 2017 amounted to 24 800 tonnes, up from 16 300 tonnes in the same period in 2016 (+52.1 percent). The major suppliers were Peru, China and Chile. While Peru saw a modest increase (+16.4 percent) in shipments to the Republic of Korea, Chinese and Chilean exports increased by 124 percent and 36.8 percent, respectively.

Spanish imports of squid and cuttlefish also grew substantially during the first quarter of 2017, from 28 800 tonnes in 2016 to 56 300 tonnes in 2017 (+95.5 percent). Peru was the number one supplier, accounting for 12 000 tonnes, or 21.3 percent of the total. Other major suppliers to this market were China (9 100 tonnes), India (9 100 tonnes) and Morocco (8 900 tonnes).

Imports of squid and cuttlefish into the United States of America were fairly stable at 17 400 tonnes during the first quarter of the year, compared to 17 300 tonnes during the same period in 2016. The major supplier, China, accounted for 10 000 tonnes or 57.5 percent of the total.

The United States of America is also an important exporter of squid, and during the first three months of 2017, almost 10 000 tonnes were exported, a 50 percent rise over the same period of 2016.

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