Trade and Markets

As much as 15% of the total value of fish products marketed worldwide is shrimp. Shrimp prices have been lower than other fish products due to the spectacular growth in production (80% over the past ten years). Farmed, wild, marine and freshwater, as well as the ability to process it into a variety of product forms make shrimp a versatile commodity produced and traded in many markets.

The Turkish seabass and seabream industry has been steadily increasing production volumes for the last decade or so, to the point where Turkey is now the world’s major producer of seabass and is also closing the gap on the Greek seabream sector. At the beginning of 2015, it now appears that the production growth stage of the Turkish expansion is winding down and the focus is instead switching to turning production into profit.

Fishing and aquaculture have in recent years made enormous progress on their path to a more sustainable approach to production even if critics still doubt or deny the fact. For the criteria that enable objective assessment of the situation paint a clear picture: the environment and the resources it holds are today in better shape and we are entitled to look optimistically into the future.

Mussels are the most traded bivalves in the world, with international trade during the first quarter 2015 totalling about 70,000 tonnes. The first few months of 2015 were very positive for the Chilean mussel industry with exports quickly growing.

The forecasted growth in farmed Atlantic production in Norway this year is marginally below last year at around 4%. However, so far, significantly higher volumes have been absorbed by the markets, leading to expectations for a tighter supply situation in the second half of 2015. In Chile, harvest volumes have shown a sharp decline compared with last year, but a weak economy in Brazil, volcano eruptions, customs strikes and a buyer backlash over higher antibiotic use have complicated operations and kept demand low. Meanwhile, the wild salmon markets are braced for what are expected to be abnormally large global harvests for multiple species, boosting supply further in what is already a buyer’s market.

In the first half of 2015, global production of farmed shrimp was lower than the same time period last year, particularly with less than expected harvests in Asia. Production in Ecuador was higher during this period, with Viet Nam as their top export market. Shrimp prices plummeted by 15-20% in international trade compared with the first six months of 2014 as a result of the supply and demand disparity in the USA, the EU and Japan. For exports, India, Indonesia and Thailand managed to increase their volumes to the USA, albeit with plummeting export revenues. There were also higher imports to Viet Nam, the Republic of Korea and China during this period.

During the third quarter of 2015, frozen skipjack prices increased strongly by almost 50%, but started to decline in October. In the first half of 2015, the sashimi tuna market in Japan remained weak. For the first time in history, US imports of air-flown fresh tuna were higher than that of Japan something that could become a common feature in the future as well. For canned tuna, export earnings suffered in Asia and Latin America during the first six months of the year, as traditional markets in the USA and EU remained lacklustre. Import growth only persisted in the Middle Eastern markets.

Russia and the USA are preparing to cooperate in order to fight IUU crab fishing. This may lead to tighter supplies as illegal crab could be removed from the market.

After a year of lower harvests, firming prices and relived pressure on producer margins, 2016 has started off well with a sharp upturn in seabass and seabream prices on European markets. Further reductions in supply from the major sources should see this situation continue, giving a further boost to the expanding Turkish industry and allowing Greek companies the opportunity to build on what are now more solid foundations.

News in the salmon sector for 2016 has so far been dominated by reports of a massive algal bloom in southern Chile that had killed some 27 million fish by 10 March. Compounded by an expected drop in production in Norway where growth is currently limited by sea lice issues, the supply shock has driven up previously depressed Chilean farmed salmon prices while already high Norwegian prices have been pushed even further upwards.

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