Greek aquaculture strengthens its outward orientation

Despite inflationary pressures, devaluations and increased competition, the Greek aquaculture sector achieved stability in production, improved prices and a further boost to exports in 2022.
Fish farm in the Mediterranean Sea in Greece. Greek aquaculture strengthened its outward orientation last year. Photo: AdobeStock.
Fish farm in the Mediterranean Sea in Greece. Greek aquaculture strengthened its outward orientation last year. Photo: AdobeStock.

The Hellenic Aquaculture Producers Organization (HAPO) has presented its annual report on the evolution of the sector in 2022. According to the conclusions of HAPO's 9th Annual Aquaculture Report, despite all the difficulties, last year the sector managed to strengthen its outward orientation with a 20% increase in the value of its foreign sales, which exceeded EUR 600 million (USD 634 million).

"2022 was a unique year as the industry managed, within a challenging global economic environment, to maintain its production and successfully supply the markets, further enhancing its outward orientation," said Giannis Pelekanakis, Director of European Affairs at HAPO.

Consumers worldwide trust Greek aquaculture fish

Stability in production, improved prices, and a further boost in exports were highlights of the Greek aquaculture last year. However, as Pelekanakis points out, the sector also faced difficulties due to continued inflationary pressures, devaluations, and increased competition in the Mediterranean area.

HAPO's report especially highlights the competition from Turkey, which it describes as "very intense." In addition to the considerable increase in aquaculture production in Greece's neighboring country, the devaluation of the Turkish lira made its products very competitive and favored their market penetration.

Despite this, as mentioned, in 2022 Greek aquaculture strengthened the external orientation of the industry. Exports, valued at EUR 600.6 million (USD 634.2 million), reached 104,192 tons, an increase of 20% in sales value and almost 4% in volume. In fact, 82% of total production was distributed to the EU – Italy, Spain and France remain its traditional markets – and to third countries, while the remaining 18% was destined for the domestic market.

"The improvement in trading conditions during a difficult year demonstrates the trust that consumers worldwide have in Greek aquaculture fish and provides an incentive to explore new opportunities in existing markets and seek new markets and product forms that could further strengthen the industry's outward focus, profitability, and overall outlook for the years ahead," stated Pelekanakis.

Looking for solutions to enhance competitiveness and resilience

Total sales – locally and abroad – of Greek aquaculture fish amounted to 137,000 tons, worth EUR 744 million (USD 785.3 million), representing a 14% increase in total sales value compared to the previous year. Sea bream and sea bass accounted for 92% of these sales (126,700 tons), while other species accounted for the remaining 8% (10,300 tons).

Even with the aforementioned increase in competition, the average prices of both species improved throughout 2022. The increase was 3% for sea bream and 19% for sea bass. However, the Director of European Affairs at HAPO also highlighted that in 2023, the loss of purchasing power of consumers in key EU markets has become evident, with consumers turning to cheaper products, affecting the course of Greek exports.

"Additionally, fluctuations in prices are observed, which is expected to restrain the industry's developmental path next year. It is not clear when the market will stabilize and what the implications will be for Greek aquaculture, as everything will depend on the duration and severity of this economic crisis. At present, industry companies are exploring all possible solutions to control production costs and enhance their competitiveness and resilience," also said Giannis Pelekanakis. Actually, the largest fish farming company in Greece, Avramar, is one of these companies with financial problems.

Likewise, HAPO also noted that the implementation of co-financed production investments from the Fisheries Operational Program continued intensively during 2022. The report further highlighted that Greek producers are continuing their actions to improve the sustainability of the industry, with a focus on protecting marine ecosystems and improving the welfare of farmed fish.

About Hellenic Aquaculture Producers Organization

The private non-profit Hellenic Aquaculture Producers Organization (HAPO) was founded in 2016 with the aim of sustainable development of Greek Aquaculture industry and its members. Today, the organization consists of 23 members, representing approximately 80% of Greek aquaculture production. The fresh Greek fish produced by HAPO's members are characterized by the collective label Fish from Greece.

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