On 1 July the Mauritanian ban on factory vessels and freezer trawlers was lifted, and fishing started again. According to reports, catching was initially good, but the sizes are mainly small. About 70 – 80% of the catch consisted of T6 and below. As availability became better, trade picked up during the first quarter of 2012. Japan’s imports of octopus increased significantly during this time and amounted to some 9 100 tonnes (+46.8%). Mauritania increased its shipments to Japan by 90%. Morocco also shipped more octopus to Japan during this period. For other suppliers changes were minor.
China is now importing more octopus than in previous years. In the two first months of 2012, Chinese octopus imports were over four times higher than during the same period in 2011. The main suppliers were Morocco, Mauritania and Viet Nam. In Spain, imports fell by 15% during the first quarter, continuing the trend of the past three years with Morocco and Mauritania as the largest suppliers. Spanish shipments to other markets – primarily Italy and Japan – have also been reduced in recent years. On the Italian market, trading was slower, and imports fell slightly during the first quarter of the year. The largest suppliers to Italy were Tunisia, Indonesia, Spain and Morocco.
The US consumer seems to be building up an appetite for squid. Imports have risen over the past three years, and continue to rise in 2012. During the year’s first quarter, US squid imports increased by 41% compared with the same period in 2011. China is by far the largest supplier accounting for almost half of the import volume. The US is also a major exporter of squid, but this year it looks as if their squid exports will be much lower than last, with exports down in the first quarter by 27%. The largest market for US squid is China. Other important markets are the Philippines, Spain and Viet Nam.
Japanese imports of squid are increasing. In 2011 imports grew by almost 25%, and this growth seems to be continuing in 2012, albeit at a slower rate. The main supplier is again China, which is capturing larger and larger market shares. Other important suppliers are Thailand, Viet Nam and Peru. Import prices were up by 20% during the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period last year. Chinese squid imports are declining. During the first quarter of 2012, total Chinese squid imports dropped by 25%. While the US increased its market shares, Japan lost market shares. China is still a net exporter of squid in terms of value.
On the European market, the major importers are showing weak market development. Both Spain and Italy are importing less in 2012 than in 2011. In Spain, the main supplier has been the Falklands/Malvinas, but performance during the first quarter of this year was disappointing. Italian imports dropped during 2011, and the trend seems to continue into 2012 with imports dropping by as much as 28.5% in the first quarter. By far the most important suppliers were Spain and Thailand, each accounting for 5 000 tonnes.
The cuttlefish market appears to be picking up a little after a long period of tight supplies and rising prices. In the second quarter of 2012 prices started to rise again and though they are still not quite back to the level of August 2011, they are edging upwards.
On the Japanese market demand appears to have picked up a bit, and imports during the first quarter of 2012 increased by almost 20%. There are a number of suppliers to the Japanese market, but Thailand is still the number one. Thai export prices increased slightly from 2011 to the second quarter of 2012.
On the European market, the picture is more mixed. Demand in Italy seems a bit slower than in Spain, and this is reflected in the import figures. While there was a 3% increase in imports into Spain during the first quarter, there was a massive 36% decline in Italian imports during the same time. On the USA market, there has been a positive development in that imports during 2011 were up by 34%. In addition, US import prices also went up.