Market and Trade Data
Sales of Premium
Products to EU Drive Record U.S. Seafood Exports
By Joel Chetrick
also. . .
Six-Month Exports of U.S. Frozen Mackerel to EU Eclipse
FAS Worldwide, October 2006
exports of premium fishery products to the EU (European
Union) continued upward in 2006 as previous sales value
records were toppled in the region and worldwide. U.S.
fishery product exports to the EU totaled 308,198 metric
tons valued at over $1.05 billion in calendar 2006.
years, the EU has been the leading regional growth
market for U.S. seafood as value and quantity grew by 79
percent and 43 percent, respectively, from 2002-2006. In
addition, the EUís share of 2006 fishery product sales
increased to 25.9 percent of U.S. export value, up 6.5
percentage points from 2002. As shown in the table
below, North America and East Asia, the other top
regional markets for U.S. seafood, registered increased
sales values during the past four years, but declined
somewhat in export share.
By Region and Share of Total Export Value
2002-2006 Percent Change
Regional % of World
Regional % of World
Regional % of World
Regional % of World
for a Mix of Products
exports rose for a variety of products, with especially
notable gains for high-value scallops. Scallop exports
in 2006 increased over 3.6 times in quantity to 8,065
tons compared with the 2002 level. The value gain was
even more striking, rising to $99.4 million in 2006, a
difference of about $81 million Ė more than 5.3 times
the 2002 value. Other leading export products
registering gains included: pollock (with sales of $220
million, 99 percent of which was frozen fillets of
Alaska pollock); lobster ($168.7 million); cod (about
$97 million); and salmon ($93.5 million). Increased
export values of salmon were driven by frozen sockeye,
which in recent years has made inroads in Germany with
producers of smoked product and the United Kingdom in
the retail sector, as well as chum, an established
product in the EU for many years.
years, the EU has significantly reduced its member
statesí fishing quotas for cod. Consequently, seafood
processors in the EU have actively sought new supplies
of white fish such as pollock, cod, whiting/hake, and
similar products from outside the EU to meet the
regionís strong demand. U.S. exporters have capitalized
on these sales opportunities. Robust sales of U.S.
pollock and cod as well as whiting/hake ($34.2 million)
were destined mainly for reprocessing into value-added
products such as frozen meals and fish sticks, with much
of the production taking place in Germany. Increasingly,
cod from the United States has been used in the
production of salted cod, finding a large and growing
market with re-processors in Portugal, where U.S. cod
exports totaled $38.6 million (about 40 percent of total
U.S. cod exports to the EU).
seafood success has been the rising sales of U.S.
mackerel, mostly Atlantic mackerel from waters off the
New England and Middle Atlantic states. In 2006, U.S.
mackerel exports increased 60 percent in quantity from
the 2005 level to 25,332 tons, following impressive
volume and value gains over the past few years. The
export value from 2005-2006 nearly doubled to $27.1
million (up 97 percent). Mackerel processors from the
Northeastern states broke new ground in 2006 with the
development of markets such as France ($6.8 million) and
Portugal ($6.3 million), where U.S. product is used
mainly for canning.
EU destinations for U.S. seafood in 2006 included
Germany, the Netherlands (with most product re-exported
to other EU countries), France, the United Kingdom,
Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium (also with a great
deal of re-exports).
remains a growing market for U.S. seafood, with 2006
exports exceeding $263 million, up 23 percent from 2005.
Pollock exports increased by 50 percent in value, and
accounted for about half the sales to Germany in terms
of volume and value. However, exports also rose for
several other species. Consumer understanding that
seafood is part of a healthy diet has been a major
factor in the strong demand, as evidenced by growing
sales of premium U.S. wild salmon, scallops, and other
general, knowledgeable, experienced traders, Europeís
leading ports (Rotterdam, Antwerp, and Amsterdam), and a
good distribution system make the Netherlands and
Belgium attractive markets for trading and processing
seafood products. Last year, some of the varied seafood
exports to the Netherlands and Belgium included pollock,
salmon, scallops, lobster, cod, and eels. Increased
seafood sales to these countries reflect domestic
demand, reprocessing (mainly in the Netherlands), and
substantial product re-exports due to transportation
advantages and their close proximity to other countries
in Western Europe.
Netherlands, Alaska pollock makes up almost half of U.S.
seafood imports by volume. In 2005, roughly 5,000 tons
stayed in the Dutch market, and the remaining 11,000
tons was re-exported, mainly to Germany, France, and
Belgium. The Dutch also import U.S. salmon, scallops,
and lobster (often found at high-end wholesalers and
distributors), and other products. Importers of these
types of products traditionally also serve clients in
neighboring countries. Belgiumís purchases of U.S.
seafood have gone up considerably, due largely to
growing imports of scallops transshipped to other
countries, primarily France.
has been a growth market for high-value scallops and
lobster (with 2006 exports at $46 million and $42.3
million, respectively), which are heavily used by the
restaurant sector. France is the largest market for U.S.
scallops, which accounted for 29 percent of total U.S.
seafood sales to that country, valued at nearly $161
million. Lobster, a favorite food for holidays and
special occasions, had a 26-percent value share. U.S.
exports of wild salmon ($17.5 million) and pollock
($16.6 million) ranked third and fourth, respectively.
United Kingdom, the perennial top market for U.S. canned
salmon (with sales of $68.7 million in 2006), has become
a growth market for other salmon product formats, mainly
frozen items ($12.5 million). A number of major
supermarket chains have stocked and promoted wild Alaska
salmon, which ranked as the second largest U.S. seafood
export to the United Kingdom. Another growing export was
high-value scallops, valued at $11.6 million in 2006.
Spain are substantial users of U.S. lobster, ranking
second and third worldwide following Canada, which
reprocesses and re-exports most U.S. product. While
Italy and Spain import a variety of products from the
United States (such as squid and salmon), lobster
dominates in sales value. Lobster sales, valued at $54.7
million, accounted for 80 percent of U.S. seafood
exported to Italy in 2006. Sales of lobster to Spain
reached $51.6 million, amounting to 54 percent of
exports to that market.
above, Portugal is a growing market for U.S. cod, with
exports valued at $38.6 million. Cod accounted for about
two-thirds of the U.S. seafood sales value to Portugal
(totaling $58.2 million). The first-ever mackerel sales
also contributed to expansion of this important market.
strong euro, the EUís appetite for seafood, and its
domestic supply constraints have been important factors
behind higher U.S. sales to the region. U.S. exportersí
efforts have also been instrumental to their success in
this market, by developing lasting relationships with EU
buyers and providing consistent supplies of high-quality
shows such as the European Seafood Exposition and the
Boston Seafood Show have benefited many U.S.
participants by allowing them to display their products,
meet buyers from around the world, and engage in
one-on-one sales discussions. Organizations that promote
U.S. seafood have helped U.S. suppliers by pre-arranging
meetings with international buyers attending the Boston
Seafood Show. Also, the Alaska Seafood Marketing
Institute and Food Export USA-Northeast (both of which
are participants in USDAís Market Access Program) have
organized successful promotions of regional seafood that
targeted retail and food service sectors throughout
Chetrick is an agricultural marketing specialist in the FAS
Office of Trade Programs, Livestock and Seafood Products
Branch. Phone: (202) 720-3248; E-mail: