Demand for European mussels within the EU on the decline

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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