GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Industry still struggling, but hopes for improvement in 2021


The cephalopods industry is highly dependent on the foodservice sector, and with restaurants and hotels closed down as a result of COVID-19, sales dropped like a stone. Towards the end of 2020, there were some signs of recovery, and there is hope for 2021. Supplies of octopus, as well as squid, may be tighter in the next months.



In the state of Yucatan in Mexico, the 2020 octopus fishery has been the poorest in ten years.
Landed volumes have fallen by as much as 50 percent. In 2019, about 16 000 tonnes were landed in the state, while by the end of October 2020, only 8 000 tonnes were landed. Consequently, octopus exports from Mexico were lower in 2020 than in 2019.

In 2020, Morocco had a very good octopus production, and this consequently impacted the market.


After dropping to the lowest level since 2016, octopus prices started to rise again on European markets in October 2020. The summer holidays, which is normally the high season for octopus sales in the Mediterranean region, just did not happen because of COVID-19, and sales dwindled. But towards the end of the fishing season (which ended on 1 October), Mauritanian exporters noticed a price rise in Spain.

Japan’s imports of octopus (all types) declined by 2.6 percent during the first nine months of 2020 compared to the correspoding period in 2019. However, the two largest suppliers, Mauritania and Morocco, increased shipments by 17.5 percent and 24.2 percent, respectively.

Octopus imports by the Republic of Korea during the first nine months of 2020 were practically the same as in the same period in 2019, at 50 600 tonnes. China strengthened its position as the largest supplier and exported 22 102 tonnes to the Republic of Korea, 6.6 percent more than in 2019.


The jumbo flying squid fishery is Peru’s most important artisanal fishery. One hundred percent of the catch is by artisanal fishers, and Peru accounts for about 49 percent of global supplies of this species.

However, international buyers are worried that the fishery is not managed well enough and have warned Peruvian authorities that unless the artisanal fleet and the fishery is properly regulated, and quickly, there is a real risk that the fishery will be classified as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU). If this happens, Peruvian jumbo flying squid will face enormous problems in the market.

The number of Chinese squid vessels in the South Pacific waters has increased fourfold over the past nine years. In late October, more than 30 Chinese vessels were observed just outside Peru’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and Peruvian authorities are weary that some of these vessels may cross into Peruvian waters. While South American countries impose quota restrictions on squid catches in their waters, there are no limits on vessels operating in international waters.

China’s activity in the South Pacific is also evident in Chinese statistics. The port of Zhoushan, which is China’s leading distant-water fishing port, has reported a sharp increase in incoming shipments of GLOBEFISH Highlights | July 2019 9 GLOBEFISH HIGHLIGHTS | 1st issue 2021 squid in 2020. During the first ten months of 2020, landings of squid in Zhoushan rose by 13 percent compared to 2019, from 300 000 tonnes to 340 000 tonnes. Most of this increase comes from fishing in the South Pacific.

In 2020, the squid fishery around the Falkland/Malvinas islands was poorer than in 2019. In 2020, a total of 60 700 tonnes were landed by the domestic fleet, 26 percent less than in 2019.


Home delivery squid products has registered a strong surge after the initial shock of COVID-19. In the United States of America, a number of restaurants and foodservice chains cancelled orders, but surprisingly, demand for home delivery squid products grew strongly.

Brexit could be a big problem for the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. As the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland left the European Union on 1 January 2020, the Falkland/Malvinas Islands could lose their tariff-free access to the European Union, and this would be a major set-back for the squid industry. However, Brexit did not go into effect until 1 January 2021, and the Falkland/ Malvinas Island authorities are still negotiating to maintain their tariff-free status. The European Union is the Falkland/Malvinas Islands largest market for Loligo squid.

Imports of frozen squid tubes by the Republic of Korea during the first eleven months of 2020 amounted to 25 224 tonnes, up 9 percent from 23 234 tonnes during the same period in 2019. Prices dropped, though. The average import price in November was just USD 1.48 per kg, 36 percent lower than a year earlier.

Japan’s imports of squid and cuttlefish fell by 5 percent during the first nine months of 2020, to 108 756 tonnes. The two largest suppliers, China and Peru, saw declines of 7.1 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively.

China’s imports of squid and cuttlefish also fell by 20 percent in the first nine months of 2020 from the same period of 2019. Peru, which was China’s largest supplier in 2019, had a 65 percent reduction in shipments to China, from 71 439 tonnes in 2019, to just 25 172 tonnes in 2020.

Spain imported less squid and cuttlefish in the first three quarters of 2020. Imports during this period fell from 235 125 tonnes in 2018, to 217 036 tonnes in 2019, to 162 826 tonnes in 2020.

Poorer demand in the United States of America translated into lower imports of squid and cuttlefish during the first nine months of 2020. Imports dropped by 27.5 percent to 35 300 tonnes. The largest supplier, China, lost market share as its shipments to the United States of America dropped by 38.9 percent. In 2019, China accounted for half of US imports of these products. In 2020, China’s share was down to 42 percent.

Squid prices from Morocco have remained well below 2020 prices, although some improvements were noted towards the end of the year. In August, Moroccan squid prices reached their lowest levels for many years. Demand in Spain appeared to rise towards the end of the year, but not much product was available. Both rising demand from Spanish retailers, and a slower supply from Asia helped to push prices up.

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