Driving higher prices and reduced consumption of fishery and aquaculture products worldwide, inflation was also the main driver of major seafood market trends within the EU in 2022.
That's the key takeaway from the EU's newly-released 2023 edition of its EU Fish Market report, a comprehensive analysis of the EU fisheries and aquaculture industry made by the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture (EUMOFA).
The EU is the world's third largest seafood consumer market, after China and Indonesia, and is also the second-largest trade market for fishery and aquaculture products after China.
The analysis reveals a year marked by higher seafood prices due to escalating inflation, paralleled by a drop in at-home consumption of fishery and aquaculture products.
As a net importer of seafood, the block was heavily impacted by inflation in 2022, with the EU seafood trade deficit soaring to 25% - almost EUR 5 billion - while all the major seafood species increased significantly in import value.
We summarise the main findings of the report below.
Within the EU-27, household spending on fishery and aquaculture products saw an almost 11% increase compared to 2021, continuing the upward trend initiated in 2018.
However, rising inflation led to a 10% increase in seafood prices from 2021 to 2022, with consumers eating less seafood at home.
At-home fish consumption witnessed a nearly 17% volume decrease in the highest-consuming EU countries between 2021 and 2022.
A similar pattern of higher value but declining volume was observed in the EU's seafood export market.
The EU witnessed a 19% growth in the value of its exports, reaching €8.1 billion. Despite this positive financial trend, the volume of exports continued the decline begun in 2021, decreasing by 5% to 2.3 million tonnes.
Several factors played a role in shaping EU trade flows in 2022, the EU analysis notes. A primary contributor was a surge in inflation, partly associated with the COVID-19 recovery, resulting in heightened demand and subsequent price hikes.
Additionally, the Russian aggression in Ukraine led to increased energy and production costs, contributing to global inflation and impacting currency exchange rates.
With the increase in the value of imports surpassing that of exports, the EU experienced a trade deficit that was 25% higher in 2022 compared to 2021, amounting to €4.73 billion.
The analysis reveals that over the decade spanning from 2013 to 2022, the trade deficit widened by 56% in real terms. In 2022, all EU nations with deficits exceeding €1 billion faced a deteriorating situation compared to the previous year, with value increasing for both exports and imports, while volumes declined.
Europe paid more for Norwegian salmon in 2022. Despite a 3% decline in overall salmon volume imported compared with 2021, import value reached a ten-year high of €8,4 billion. The lion's share of this came from Norway, accounting for 83% of the value increase during 2022, with a surge of 33% in average import price compared with the previous year.
Shrimp import volume and value also increased, reaching 10% of the total volume of seafood imported into the EU during 2022, and jumping 17% in import value compared with 2021. Tuna also soared in value compared with the previous year, with a 29% increase in value compared to just a 1% increase in volume imported.
Cod remains one of the most popular species consumed in the EU, but falling supply (a drop of 7%) plus inflation meant soaring import value during 2022, at 20% above the 2021 value. Meanwhile, Alaska pollock did even better, with import value jumping 31% to reach a total of €986 million in imports, mainly due to significant price increase.
'The EU fish market' is a comprehensive analysis of the EU fisheries and aquaculture industry which has been published every year since 2014.
It is prepared by the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA), a market intelligence service of the European Union developed by the European Commission. EUMOFA works to increase market transparency and efficiency, analyses EU markets dynamics, and supports evidence-based policymaking.