Compared with a decade ago, the 2012 total production data show an expansion of about 30 million tonnes. This is due to an increase in aquaculture production, which has grown on average by 6% per year in the period 2002-2012. In 2012, aquaculture production reached 67 million tonnes and projections for 2013 indicate further growth to about 70 million tonnes or 44% of total fishery production. However, recently the average annual growth rate of aquaculture production has decelerated as a result of disease problems, especially of shrimp.
Capture fisheries declined by more than three percent in 2012 because of lower landings of anchoveta in South America. The reduced catches also triggered a decline in fishmeal and fish oil production with a subsequent strong price increase. Estimates for 2013 show a further moderate decline of capture fisheries to about 90 million tonnes, which is in line with the patterns seen over the last two decades.
The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012-2022 projects that these trends will continue in the next decade. It is expected that total world fisheries production will reach about 181 million tonnes by 2022, representing an 18% increase compared with the 2010-2012 base period. It is expected that this development will be driven by aquaculture, which is projected to increase by 35%, while capture fisheries will grow at a moderate rate – about 5% – mainly because of the predicted recovery of some fish stocks.
Fish exports touch new record
The trade in fish products has expanded considerably during the last few decades. After a period of strong increase in 2011 (16% compared with 2010) and early 2012, international trade in fish and fishery products has continued to expand, although not as rapidly. In 2012, fishery exports reached USD 129.3 billion, a modest increase over 2011 (only one percent), but the highest level ever reported. Preliminary estimates for 2013 point to a further increase to about USD 132.2 billion, a slower growth rate than in 2010-2011 and early 2012. Despite the renewed economic instability experienced in 2012-2013 in many of the world’s leading economies, the long term trend for fish trade remains positive.
In the period 2011-2012 developing countries confirmed their fundamental role as suppliers to world markets with about 54% of the value and more than 60 percent of the volume (live weight equivalent) of total fishery exports. Since 2002 China has been the world’s largest exporter of fish and fishery products. In 2013 China’s exports reached USD 19.6 billion, followed by Norway (USD 10.4 billion) and Thailand (USD 7.0 billion). Norway, the second largest exporter, has a diverse product range – from farmed salmonids to small pelagic and traditional whitefish species. Thailand experienced a decline of its exports (about 12 percent) due to reduced production volumes of farmed shrimp caused by disease. Thailand is largely dependent on imported raw materials. In contrast, Vietnam, the fourth largest world exporter, has a growing domestic resource base and imports only limited, albeit growing, volumes of raw material.
Dependency on fish imports is growing in emerging markets
Fish imports rose by 108% from 2002 to 2012, reaching USD 129.4 billion. Developed countries accounted for about 73% of total imports in value terms. Preliminary estimates for 2013 indicate a growth to USD 137 billion.
The EU is by far the largest single market for imported fish and fishery products. In 2012, EU-27 imports (including intra-EU trade) reached USD 47.1 billion, down four percent from 2011, representing 36% of total world imports. The EU’s dependency on imports for fish consumption is growing. This is a result of the positive trend in consumption and further expansion of supply.
The USA and Japan, like the EU, are highly dependent on imports for fish consumption (at about 60% and 54%, respectively, of total fish supply). In 2013 Japan’s imports declined by about 15%, owing partly to a weaker currency, which made imports more expensive. Since 2011, China has become an important importing country as a result of outsourcing. Chinese processors import raw material from all major regions, including South and North America and Europe, for re-processing and re-export. It also reflects China’s growing domestic consumption of species not available from local supply sources.
In addition to the major importing markets, a number of emerging countries are growing in importance to the world’s exporters. Among these markets are Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Egypt, and Asia and the Middle East in general. Improved domestic distribution systems as well as growing aquaculture production have played a role in increasing regional trade. Eastern and Central Europe have also seen growing imports in response to increasing purchasing power among consumers.
Shrimp, salmonids and groundfish – main commodities traded
Shrimp continues to be the most important commodity traded worldwide in value terms, accounting for about 15% of the total value. Shrimp is mainly produced in developing countries. However, growing demand in the domestic markets, as economic conditions improve, is leading to lower export volumes and increased domestic consumption. In 2012 and early 2013 farmed shrimp production volumes decreased, influenced by disease. This reduced supply and pushed shrimp prices higher worldwide. Buyers were influencing prices with sustained demand, as for example in the USA and China. In contrast, several European countries and Japan have experienced lower imports. The Japanese market, dependent on imported supplies of shrimp, is also suffering because of weaker yen and increased landing costs.
Trade of salmon and trout, groundfish (hake, cod, haddock and Alaska Pollock), and tuna constitutes 14%, 10% and 9% of the total value, respectively. Salmonids share in world trade has increased strongly over the last decades to the present 14% thanks to the expansion of salmon and trout aquaculture production in northern Europe and in North and South America. In Chile, the second major producer and exporter after Norway, the salmon industry is undergoing a transformation process that seeks to overcome the post-financial crisis and to address higher production costs resulting from stricter production regulations. The market for groundfish species seems widely diversified. Overall supply was higher in 2012 and at the beginning of 2013 thanks to the recovery of some stocks. However, there were differences depending on species, for example, abundant supply of Arctic cod and a shortage of saithe and haddock. Cod remained the most expensive groundfish. Recently farmed whitefish species, in particular less expensive tilapia and pangasius, have gained their position in the market. The main markets for pangasius are the EU, USA, Japan, Russia, Egypt, the Middle East and South America as well as Africa. However, in 2013 output in Viet Nam, the main producing and exporting country, was lower, and there are positive developments in other producing countries in Asia due to steady demand in the global market. Tilapia continues to be popular in the USA with Asian and Central American countries the main suppliers of frozen and fresh tilapia, respectively. Demand in Europe for this species continues to be limited. Tilapia production is expanding in Asia, South America and Africa targeting domestic and regional rather than international markets.
With some variations overall tuna landings have been lower in 2013 compared to 2012, with prices reaching high levels. Japan, the largest sashimi market, has become less active with lower imports. Demand for fresh and chilled sashimi remained high in the USA, which is now the second largest market for non-canned tuna products. The canned tuna market fared better with improved imports in the USA and the EU where prices remained on a high plateau. Canned tuna demand has also improved in non-conventional markets, such as Asia.
During 2013, the main markets for cephalopods remained strong, in particular Japan and the EU, in spite of difficult economic situation and high prices. In first half of 2013 octopus supplies were more abundant than previous year, in particular from Morocco. Squid production also improved, while cuttlefish supplies were slightly lower. Prices of cephalopods remained relatively high and this trend is expected to continue.
Consumption follows trends in fish trade
The increasing demand for and trade in fish has triggered farming of fish, in most cases limited to a few high value species such as shrimp and salmon as well as more affordable species such as carp, tilapia and pangasius. In 2010, global per capita consumption of fish was estimated at 18.9 kg, with fish accounting for 16.7% of the global population’s intake of animal proteins and 6.5% of all proteins consumed. Fish and fishery products play a crucial role in nutrition and are a source of nutrients that cannot be found in other food products. Fish is recognized as an excellent source of protein and plays a role in providing essential fatty acids and micronutrients deficient in many diets.
Preliminary estimates for 2012 indicate a further growth in per capita consumption to 19.2 kg with major growth in emerging markets. The share of aquaculture products is estimated at 49% of the total fish supply for human consumption. A significant share of this production consists of low-value freshwater species, mainly destined for domestic markets.