For octopus, demand is strong and growing


The last GLOBEFISH Highlights Issue (October 2016) reported that China as a processor of cephalopods was having problems securing enough raw materials for its processing industry, and some operators are now taking steps to rectify this. For years China has been exploring Africa as a promising source of raw material for its seafood industry, and recently, Chinese investors have heavily invested in seafood operations in Mauritania to secure cephalopod supplies.


According to, a Chinese company (Guangxi Crown Fisheries) has joined forces with a Mauritanian company to fish along the Mauritanian coastline for pelagics as well as cephalopods. It is reported that the Chinese company will invest about US$150 million in a processing facility as well as 20 new fishing vessels.

In Mexico, the octopus fishing season started on 1 August, and it is expected that landings will reach some 10 000 tonnes this season. The National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca) says the biological assessment is positive and that a good season is expected. Fishing was interrupted by Hurricane Earl at the end of August 2016, but resumed a month later, and by late 2016 was reported to be back to normal in the Yucatan region.

In contrast, in Chile, octopus fishing was suspended for a period of five months starting in mid-October 2016. The ban is in effect between the regions of Los Rios and Magellanes. The reason for the ban is to protect the resource during the period of sexual maturity in an effort to rebuild the stocks.

Landings of octopus in Spain’s Galicia province almost tripled during the first nine months of 2016 compared with 2015. By the end of September, roughly 700 tonnes had been landed, compared with just 250 tonnes during the same period in 2015.

During the first three quarters of the year, Japanese octopus imports dropped by 15.4 percent to 33 500 tonnes. The two largest suppliers to the Japanese market (Morocco and Mauritania) experienced a decline in shipments (-15 percent and -32 percent, respectively), while the third largest supplier (China) saw an 18 percent increase in shipments to Japan.

In spite of the largest sales season at the end of 2016, octopus sales in Japan stagnated somewhat in late December 2016. Retailers did not have as many bargain offers as usual and octopus consumption has been slightly down since August because of competition from Pacific saury, which came on the market in greater quantity.

In general, a declining yen value is pushing up Japanese seafood prices, but apparently octopus prices have not been affected to the same extent as other seafood products have been. Instead, octopus has seen moderate prices, helped by strong landings in West Africa. These affordable prices have resulted in increased Japanese demand for octopus in 2016 compared with 2015. Demand for steamed and cooked octopus is particularly growing. Octopus prices were further lowered by a drop in the US dollar, which translated into a weakening in yen prices for octopus in Japan. As many other seafood prices were high, octopus products have become an affordable consumer choice.

For the Republic of Korean, imports of octopus declined during the first nine months of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015 by 12.3 percent to 47 600 tonnes. Both major suppliers saw a moderate decline in their exports: China dropped by 6.7 percent, and Viet Nam by 8.7 percent.

Spanish octopus imports during this period declined slightly by 3.7 percent to 38 600 tonnes. The main supplier by far was Morocco, which accounted for 56.7 of the total. Morocco experienced a small increase in shipments to Spain during this period.

Octopus is increasing in popularity on the US market. US imports of octopus reached a record level in 2015, with just over 22 800 tonnes imported. Spain is taking a fair share of this trade, and now accounts for about 24 percent of total US octopus imports. The USA provides a welcome alternative to European markets for Spanish octopus exporters, as the problems in the European economies have created issues for this trade. To some extent, the Spanish octopus is replacing product from the Philippines on the US market.



Argentina exploring octopus aquaculture

Argentina is researching the possibility of farming octopus (Octopus tehuelchus) in the future. The Mariculture Experimental Station of the National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development in Mar del Plata is currently conducting experiments with juvenile octopus. The objective is to obtain juveniles from eggs with embryos for acclimatization to captivity. The experiment is using wild-caught octopus as the starting point. According to researchers, the main difficulty is the feeding of juveniles, but so far, the results are promising. 


The report analyses the market situation over the period January-December 2016

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