Cephalopods: December 2012 Market Report

Supplies of octopus improved significantly in August 2012, and as a result prices dropped by as much as 30% in some markets. With the increase of octopus quotas, the market is set for further price reductions. Squid prices also fell with increased landings in Japan and Argentina.




Octopus landings in Mauritania were excellent during the summer, and this led to a much improved supply situation. In Morocco, the quota for octopus was increased for the summer season, and this has also contributed to improved supplies and decreasing prices.

The improved supply situation naturally affects price developments, and prices for frozen Mauritanian octopus dropped by as much as 30% in August.

On the other side of the globe, quotas were reduced, however. Mexico announced in July that the quota for the fall season would be 10 000 tonnes, compared with 12 000 tonnes in 2011.

Japanese imports showed signs of taking advantage of this situation already in the second quarter, when imports from Mauritania increased from 6 300 tonnes during the first half of 2011 to 8 500 tonnes during the same period in 2012.

Spanish importers do not appear to have reacted in the same way, as imports into Spain during the first half of the year were actually down by over 15%, to 14 800 tonnes.

Italy also saw a decline in imports of octopus during the first half of 2012. Total octopus imports fell by 12.3%, and Spain and Mauritania were the main losers, while imports from Senegal increased.


Japanese landings of flying squid have been strong lately, resulting in price reductions on the Japanese market of up to 20% in August. Supplies to the Tokyo Tsukiji Market in July were up by about 20% on a daily basis, and prices dropped correspondingly. This made squid quite attractive to consumers, and demand has risen.

While total imports of squid into Japan are up, there is an important shift in what products the Japanese consumer is buying. Fresh and frozen squid, cuttlefish and octopus are declining, while imports of prepared products have increased significantly. The main supplier to Japan is still China, accounting for about half of Japanese squid imports during the first half of 2012.

Spain is also increasing imports in 2012. During the first half of the year, Spanish squid imports increased by 5.2% compared with the same period in 2011. On the Italian market, imports were dramatically down during the first half of the year. The import volume went down by 26%, affecting all the suppliers.

The USA is again a big importer of squid and during the first half of 2012 there was a significant increase in imports, up by 26.2% compared with the same period in 2011. China increased its shipments to the USA by 2 500 tonnes during the period.


The main supplier of cuttlefish, Viet Nam, is suffering losses because of the lack of buyer interest in China at the moment. Prices have dropped dramatically as a result, from VND 150 000 per kg to just VND 60 000 per kg.

In Europe, the cuttlefish market is fairly dull, and main markets such as Italy and Spain are both importing less this year, in spite of improved supplies and declining prices.


In general, it is expected that demand on Asian markets will grow in the longer term, and this may divert some supplies from European markets. It is also worthwhile to note that, increasingly, sales of value added products will grow in Asia, and probably also in other regions.

There seems to be a slightly better supply situation for octopus, so some easing off of prices can probably be expected. For squid, the supply situation might be tighter, and trade would then contract with higher prices. Cuttlefish supplies are still tight and prices are continuing on an upward trend.

Source: FAO Globefish