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  • Sea Food Market Trends

    Exporting fish and seafood to Europe

    Europe is an interesting market for fish and seafood exporters. Here you'll find the information you need to help you get fish or seafood products on the European market.

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    Which trends offer opportunities or pose threats to the European fish and seafood market?

    The European fish and seafood market is experiencing rapid growth. Product premiumisation, created through trends in the communication of sustainability, certification, transparency, health and romantic origin stories, as well as industry consolidation, act as driving forces behind this growth. At the same time, the increased bargaining power of international company groups and negative trends, like mislabelling, put pressure on the bottom line of producers. Being aware of how these trends affect your business is an important ingredient to success.

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    Promising Export Products

    Black Tiger Shrimp

    Black tiger shrimp is considered a premium product for niche markets. The food service, organic and ethnic retail markets prise this shrimp for its large size and desirable colour, taste and texture. Due to the high availability of Pacific white shrimp, however, it is a challenge to remain price-competitive on sizes in both species. By meeting the necessary requirements in these niche markets, you can get your product to reach the markets demanding it.

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    Fresh Tuna

    Fresh tuna is a high-value product in the European market. Most of the fresh tuna imported is Yellowfin and Albacore tuna. The top three markets are Spain, France and Italy. Growth markets are Portugal, Belgium, United Kingdom and Italy, due to the growing popularity of Sushi in several parts of Europe.

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    Frozen Tuna

    The lion’s share of frozen whole tuna imported into Europe is used for canning, with the balance left for processing into loins or steaks. The most promising markets for frozen tuna in Europe are Spain and France, followed at a distance by Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Germany. As there is growing concern about the sustainability of tuna fisheries, your tuna fishery’s level of sustainability will be the key to the success of your business.

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    Frozen, Pre-cooked Tuna

    Tuna loins prepared for the canning industry are individual tuna fillets gutted and cleaned — organs, skin, bones and black meat are removed — then cooked and frozen at -18ºC by blast or contact freezing. Most pre-cooked frozen tuna loins come from skipjack and yellowfin tuna. Europe has domestic tuna fisheries, but the European canning industry still sources a large percentage of its input from outside the EU, giving exporters potential opportunities to enter this large and interesting market.

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    Octopus

    Octopus is mainly consumed in Southern European countries such as Italy and Spain. Europe mostly depends on imports from North African countries such as Morocco and Mauritania and European countries such as Spain and Portugal. The supply of octopus also comes from other countries such as Mexico and Indonesia, although imports from these countries are relatively lower. If you want to export octopus to Europe, the best opportunities are to approach importers in Spain and Italy.

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    Crab

    The European crab market is concentrated with major consumption focused in France and Spain, representing over 60% of total European fresh and frozen crab consumption. Crab is a niche market, not considered an everyday purchase, and mostly associated with social events and special occasions. The European market has a lot of live and frozen products domestically. As such, there is more opportunity for developing countries in the prepared and processed segment. Transparency, sustainability and the story behind your products can give you an advantage.

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    Pacific White Shrimp

    Suppliers of Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) have taken over the European shrimp market. Supermarkets and wholesalers throughout Europe sell a variety of frozen and chilled refreshed Pacific white shrimp products. The global rise in production of Pacific white shrimp has brought prices down. Do you want to sell your Pacific white shrimp at a higher price on the European market? Be sure you produce the most in-demand size and colour and have your products ASC certified.

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    Pangasius

    Pangasius is one of the most farmed fish in the world, but especially in 2017 the EU import value of pangasius has decreased incredibly. The EU import value decreased from €331 million in 2013 to €245 million in 2017; a loss of more than 25%. All major markets imported less pangasius, with the exception of the UK. The two most important reasons for the general decline are the negative perception of the product among certain buyers and consumers, and the competition with other white fish species, most importantly Alaska pollock and in some markets also cod.

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    Vannamei Shrimp

    The whiteleg shrimp, often called Vannamei (Litopanaeus vannamei) is one of the most popular cultured shrimp species in the world. Europe will offer good opportunities to Vannamei shrimp exporters in the next few years as the demand for cheaper shrimps, such as Vannamei shrimps, is expected to increase at the expense of black tiger shrimp imports.

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    Squid and Cuttlefish

    Italy and Spain dominate squid and cuttlefish imports in Europe. Frozen squid and cuttlefish is the most traded product type, however import of prepared squid and cuttlefish has been growing the fastest in recent years. Exporters of squid and cuttlefish should target specialised seafood importers who supply to either the food retail channel or food service channel.

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    Tilapia

    Although tilapia is one of the most farmed fishes in the world, the EU import value for tilapia has decreased since 2014. In 2013 the EU import value for tilapia was €118 million, which decreased to €96 million in 2017. The four largest EU importers of tilapia are the Netherlands (€16 million), Spain (€13 million), Belgium (€13 million) and Germany (€10 million), which account together for the majority of EU imports of tilapia.

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    Tuna By-catch Species

    While these by-catch species — swordfish, Patagonian toothfish, mahi mahi and butterfish — have a smaller market than tuna, if you target the right markets, there are opportunities to sell your products to Europe. Swordfish is the most consumed of these species, being especially popular in Southern Europe, but the demand for Patagonian toothfish has been growing, particularly in the United Kingdom. Mahi mahi and butterfish also have their niche markets, but are harder to track due to their low volumes and shared generic HS code for frozen fish fillets: HS 030489.

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    Warm-water Shrimp

    The European market for wild caught warm-water shrimp comprises approximately 35% of all European shrimp imports from outside of Europe and can be divided into two segments. First, head-on shell-on (HOSO) and headless shell-on (HLSO) large-size shrimp. Second, smaller sized peeled and deveined or undeveined (PD and PUD) block frozen shrimp. The former is a low-volume, high-value market, the latter is a high-volume, low-value market. This study focuses on the opportunities for wild caught warm-water shrimp from Asia and Africa.

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