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Lower bivalve production this year [October 2018]
Bivalve production worldwide seems to be lower this year than during 2017. Algae blooms and the presence of viruses will be impacting the overall performance. Demand continues high and it already lead to substantial increases in prices, a trend that likely will continue in coming months.


In Spain, several cooked mussel products had to be removed from supermarket shells, due to the presence of norovirus. These mussels originated in Galicia, the main production region. Chilean mussel production is expected to drop by about 10 percent in 2018, after reaching the record high of about 330 000 tonnes in 2017. An algae bloom also hit Chile in early 2018, but the expected decline in production is not linked to this problem.

Due to these reductions in the main mussel production areas, prices have increased recently. Consumers have not reacted to the various health alarms, probably trusting the competent authorities to carry out tests and stop production when health scares are likely to happen. Summer in Europe is one of the main mussel consumption periods and prices have reached EUR 4.00 per kg, about 5 percent above the price last year.

World imports in the first quarter of 2018 declined by 6 percent compared with the same period last year, due to lower demand from Italy. France, the main mussel importing country, reported stable imports during this period, though it is not a main consumption period in the year. Imports of mussels into the EU28 fell to 47 000 tonnes in the first quarter of the year, 12 percent less than during the same period in 2017. Spain and the Netherlands were the main supplying countries to the EU28, representing half of the total EU28 mussel trade. Chile recorded a substantial decline in its exports to the EU28 in the first three months of the year.


France is the main oyster producer in Europe and also the main exporter of this delicacy. All coastal areas of France produce oysters, but the main production centres are Cancale, Marenness-Oleron and Arcachon. Two types of oysters are presently produced in France, the Pacific oyster and the European oyster. The European oyster has suffered from overexploitation and currently represents only 10 percent of the total French oyster production. Summer is not the main period of oyster consumption, as this bivalve is generally consumed alive, and the high summer temperatures create some concern for this type of food habit.

World trade of oysters is rather limited, at about 80 000 tonnes per year. The first three months of the year reported a 13 percent decline in international oyster trade, due to lower imports in France and Italy.


Italy is one of the main clam consuming countries, both in live and in processed form. In recent years, Italian imports of frozen clam meat from Asia have increased significantly, especially from Viet Nam. Live clams are also imported from Tunisia at record prices. Locally produced clams in Italy vary from captured striped venus clam (Venus gallina) to cultured Manila clam (Ruditapes philippinarum), the latter demanding a premium price over the former. This year, retail price of Venus gallina clams has reached EUR 9.00 per kg, which is EUR 1.00 higher than last year’s price.

China is the world’s main exporter, mainly supplying the Asian market, while Spain is selling to France and Italy. Trade was stable in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period of last year.


Scallops trade will be impacted by the Chinese decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on seafood from the United States of America. Fresh and frozen oysters are also on the list of products to which this punitive tariff will apply. Scallop trade was relatively slow in the opening months of the year, with a 27 percent decrease in Chinese imports of scallops. Canadian scallop producers and exporters might benefit from the higher costs of US scallops in the Chinese market, similarly to what is expected for Canadian lobster, albeit a far more important trade commodity. EU28 imports of scallops in the first quarter of 2018 fell to 7 000 tonnes, 15 percent less than during the same period in 2017.


Demand for mussel continues strong and production is down in the main production countries, due to health concerns and declining stocking. New Zealand mussel production has been impacted by a red tide alert in the second quarter of 2018. No impact on prices was felt so far though, both in the domestic and international trade. New Zealand products are exported mainly as half shell, in frozen form. Prices have already gone up 5 percent and are likely to show a further tendency to grow during the summer months. From September onward, demand for mussels is expected to decline, leading to some stabilization in the markets. Oyster production is expected to be stable, especially in France, which combined with good demand towards the end of the year, should result in some price increase.

Demand for clams is strong and prices are sky-high. Further increases in price levels are likely during the third quarter of 2018. Scallop trade will be impacted by Chinese tariffs on US seafood and some shift and readjustments in the market are likely to materialize in coming months. Although it is difficult to forecast prices, it is likely that they will go up.
Bivalves market very positive [May 2018]
Demand for bivalves is growing worldwide. All major consuming countries reported high requests for bivalve products. Production is increasing, but it is generally not enough to completely meet the world demand, leading to growing prices in all major markets.
Mussel industry bound to grow The Chilean mussel industry reported a record year in 2017, with production exceeding 300 000 tonnes, after low production in 2016. Contrary to all the other major producing countries, all this production goes to exports, making Chile the world’s major exporter of mussels. In 2017, exports reached 70 000 tonnes meat weight, an 18 percent increase over 2016. Spain is the main market for Chilean mussels, importing 15 000 tonnes in 2017, a 25 percent growth from 2016. These mussels are mainly used in the canning industry, and compete there heavily with the domestic mussels produced in the Galician fjords. Other major importing countries of Chilean mussels are the United States of America, France, and Italy. These three countries reported stable imports of Chilean mussels in 2017. However, the Russian Federation is becoming an important outlet for Chilean mussels, importing some 9 000 tonnes in 2017, a 51 percent increase from 2016. Similar to Chile, New Zealand is producing mainly for the export market. In recent years, after a boom in the 1990s, these exports have been stable at USD 180 million. Main importing countries are the United States of America, China and Thailand. This stagnant situation is about to change this year, as the mussel industry in New Zealand is about to change significantly, using new technologies, such as hatchery-bred mussel spat. Mussel aquaculture growth is set to boost New Zealand seafood exports in 2018. The outlook for mussel production is positive also in all other mussel culturing countries, but demand is likely to exceed production growth, and prices are forecast to increase even further in the coming months.
Price of oysters sky-high and likely to grow further Oysters are an upper end product, with consumers willing to pay high prices. Overall world trade of this commodity is rather limited at 70 000 tonnes. France is the main exporting country of oysters, though being only number five among the producing countries. In 2017, the country exported 12 000 tonnes, 20 percent more than in 2016. France is also a major importer of oysters, with 8 000 tonnes in 2017. Demand for oysters is growing in the United States of America, the world’s major importing country with 12 000 tonnes last year. In addition to imports, the country is also trying to boost domestic production. Maine oyster is a new industry that has been growing rapidly, with massive expansion. However, demand is still higher than what the supply is able to meet, so prices continue to grow, oyster is sold by the number rather than by the dozen or in bags as on the US West Coast, which indicates that oysters are considered a top seafood item in New York and other East Coast cities. With the economic growth forecasted for 2018, further increase in demand for oysters is likely to materialize, especially during the holiday months.
China imports less scallops World imports of scallops declined sharply in 2017, as China, the main world’s importer of this species, reported a 24 percent drop in their imports. China still represents about one quarter of the world’s imports of scallops. The decline in Chinese demand for foreign scallops was caused by an increase in domestic production. The United States of America reported an 18 percent decline in scallop imports. France was the only importing country reporting higher demand for external scallops. Scallops are the fourth largest seafood import into France, after shrimp, tuna and salmon. In 2017 French imports of scallops from Argentina boomed to 3 000 tonnes, while Peru which used to be the main exporter lost ground, due to a failure in the Peruvian scallop production in 2016-early 2017. The Peruvian scallop industry is likely to recover ground in 2018.
Clams Clam overall world imports are increasing, though the two main clam importing countries, Japan and the Republic of Korea, reported stable imports in 2017. Total world imports reached 280 000 tonnes last year, a 6 percent growth over 2016. This increase in imports was mainly due to import rises in southern European countries such as Spain and Italy. Both countries have important aquaculture and capture clam fisheries, but in recent years this production was not enough to meet demand. Spanish imports of clams reached 38 700 tonnes in 2017, a 14 percent increase over 2016. China and the Republic of Korea are the main clam exporting countries, followed by Canada. In Canada, the 30-year monopoly of Clearwater Seafoods over the Artic surf clam has allowed the company to harvest up to 38 000 tonnes of clams. In 2018, there will be an allocation of 8 700 tonnes to a First Nations-owned company. The impact of this decision for the world clam market is still to be seen.
Outlook continues strong Further increase in demand for bivalves is expected for the holiday period in North America and in Europe. There seems to be no limit to the price expectations by traders. Bivalves are also increasingly being used in the preparation of ready meals, being one of the most versatile products for diversification of product presentation. The report analyses the market situation over the year 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.

Demand for European mussels within the EU on the decline [November 2016]
In the first quarter of 2016, purchases of mussels in the 10 largest buying countries slightly increased (+2 500 tonnes) compared with the same period in 2015. For the world's largest importers, France and Italy, imports grew by 5% and 4% respectively.

In terms of exports, the leading traders declined notably: the Netherlands by 24%, Chile by 12%, and Spain by 1%. Interestingly, by contrast, modest producers reported growing exports on the international market, including Denmark (+54% or +1 900 tonnes), New Zealand (+21% or +1 500 tonnes), and Canada (+36% or +900 tonnes).

During the review period, total EU imports of mussels declined by 3% to total 42 400 tonnes compared with 43 600 tonnes in the same period the year before.

The largest importers inside the EU - France and Italy - consolidated their share to take 58% of total EU mussel imports. Inter-EU imports of mussels into smaller markets demonstrated a clear decline, such as Germany (-14%), Belgium (-10%) and the Netherlands (-48%). These markets were traditionally important mussel consumers, but young consumers are not consuming the product as much as older generations have.

The two largest suppliers to the French market, The Netherlands and Spain, consolidated their market share, and in the first quarter comprised 59% of all French imports, at the expense of Italy and Denmark.

Notably, supplies from non-EU origin into the EU reached an unprecedented peak during the first quarter of 2016, accounting for 22% of total EU imports.

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Scallops, clams, cockle, ark shells - first quarter of 2016 [October 2016]
International trade of scallops slowed down during the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015. Major buyers on the international market reduced their imports, such as China, with imports dropping by a significant 50%. This decline may be partially due to increased local production. According to SeafoodNews.com, the production of yesso scallops in the Changaï province increased by 4.9% to reach over 59 000 tonnes in the period from January to May 2016.

In the EU, scallop imports in the first quarter declined by 4% compared with the same period the year before, to total only 10 200 tonnes. In France, the largest global scallop market, year-on-year imports fell by 24% during the first quarter of 2016. Consequently, France's market share of the total EU market, declined from 38.7% to 30.4%. Peru, the historical leading supplier to the French market, decreased its market share from 42.9% in 2015 down to 18.8% in 2016, as a result of sales to France declining by a significant 67% (-1 200 tonnes).
Oyster trade grew during the first quarter of 2016 [October 2016]
Historically, oyster trade during the first months of the year is generally relatively stagnant, however, during the first quarter of 2016, oyster trade grew by a remarkable 19% compared with the same period the year before. This increase reflects higher demand in Japan (+60%) and in the USA (+41%), largely due to the drop in domestic supplies. It will be interesting to see how this demand in the USA sustains as according to NOAA, the estimated per capita consumption of oyster products in the USA has been on the decline, from about .11 kg in the early 1990s to less than .09 kg during the last five years.

Public interest group sues FDA over not protecting public from bacteria in shellfish In late May, the US Center for Science in the Public Interest sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for the safety of oysters and other shellfish, for failing to protect public safety. The shellfish they pointed to contained the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, and was proven deadly in several cases, particularly for people with weakened immune systems. A response to the Center's complaint is expected by late July.
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Monday 10 December 2018
Top Info

Fish Info Network Directors meet at Conxemar, Vigo
In October each year the Spanish Association of Wholesalers, Importers, Manufacturers and Exporters of Fish products and Aquaculture (Conxemar) organizes the International Frozen Seafood Exhibition in Vigo, Spain.

Back to back with this event Conxemar jointly holds an international conference together with FAO. This year the conference was dedicated to cephalopods, a group of molluscs that includes squids, cuttlefishes, and octopus. The conference also provides the backdrop for various side events such as the Vigo dialogue on decent work in fisheries and aquaculture, and the meeting of the Fish Info Network (FIN).

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