Bivalves: January 2013 Market Report

Campaigns to increase seafood consumption in Peru, Brazil and Chile are expected to have a positive effect on artisanal fishermen and local communities who make a living from catching bivalve molluscs and in small-scale aquaculture and fisheries. They will also benefit aquaculture producers who are facing declining exports to the EU market.

Mussels                                                           

In 2012 the Chilean mussels association, Amichile, started a national campaign to promote the “Patagonian Mussel” and is hoping to extend this initiative to the Brazilian market next year. In Brazil, annual consumption of seafood products is 6 kg per capita and the government is trying to increase it to 8 kg per capita.

In the first six months of 2012 there was a significant decline of 19.9% in Spanish exports of mussels, falling from 1 153 tonnes to 924 tonnes. In Canada, however, mussel farmers in Newfoundland said mussel production was experiencing a good year in 2012. Exports of fresh live mussels go primarily to the USA, and the industry is now developing organic certification and products with controlled atmosphere for the US market.

Mussel imports into France went down from 31 100 tonnes to 21 900 tonnes in the first six months of 2012 compared with 2011, a drop of 29% in volume. Imports from Chile dropped from 6 100 tonnes to just 100 tonnes. In Italy, during the same period, demand fell nearly 28% from 17 900 tonnes to 12 800 tonnes, with no Chilean mussels imported during the first half of 2012. In Spain, mussels imports during the first six months of 2012 reached 2 900 tonnes, far behind the 5 500 tonnes that were imported in 2007, before the economic crisis.

Clams

Galician clam producers have been complaining about low prices since 2010. Species that used to have a high commercial value not so long ago, such as almeja fina (Ruditapes decussatus), were traded between EUR 6.50/kg and EUR 18/kg in September 2012, depending on the quality. In previous years the price had reached EUR 30/kg. The low prices have contributed to economic losses among producers in Galicia.

Scallops

Landings of scallops in the USA are expected to be up in 2012, with the increase estimated at about 8.8%. However, imports are sharply down despite higher supply coming out of Japan. Japanese exports of fresh live scallops are reported to be up by 186% this year compared with 2011, when the March earthquake and subsequent contamination fears led to negative consumer perceptions and reduced volumes. Argentina exported 2 924 tonnes of Patagonian scallop (Zygochlamys patagonica) worth USD 34.2 million, according to statistics from the National Health and Agrifood Quality Service (Senasa).
In Europe, demand in France for scallops showed a slight decline in the first six months of 2012, from 12 400 tonnes to 9 600 tonnes, compared with 2011. Argentina became the main supplier with 2 300 tonnes, followed by Peru, with 1 800 tonnes during the first six months in 2012 against 3 700 tonnes in the same period in 2011. The volume imported by the UK has remained about the same since 2010 at around 2 000 tonnes, while scallop imports into Spain from January to June 2012 went down from 3 680 tonnes to 2 535 tonnes compared with the same period last year.

Outlook

Clam producers in Galicia are hoping that the Christmas season will bring an increase in prices, which will help to overcome the poor results obtained from June to September. Oyster prices remain strong because of short supplies as mortalities of juveniles were reported again in the summer. Meanwhile, Chilean mussel farmers are still worried about the lack of seed that could affect 70% of the production in 2013.

Source: FAO Globefish