cuttlefish plate shot

Asian countries will continue to demand more squid and cuttlefish, and could divert supplies from other markets, particularly in Europe. This was the conclusion drawn by Fatima Ferdouse, chief of trade promotion at INFOFISH, in a presentation made by Erik Hempel, at the World Congress on Cephalopods in Vigo, Spain, at the beginning of this month.

“These species are currently sourced from within the region, but imports — from Chile, Peru and Argentina — are increasing,” Ferdouse said.

Squid and cuttlefish are also popular in southern European markets such as Spain and Italy. However, market forces, including better prices, will divert supplies from Europe to Asia, according to Ferdouse. “We believe that is going to be the trend in future. Consumption of squid in particular will increase in Asia for fresh/frozen and dried products.”

Cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish and also octopus) comprise a product group for which supplies cannot be increased through aquaculture — at least not yet. “They will come only from capture fisheries,” said Ferdouse. “For the increasing demand from oriental markets in Asia supplies are not plentiful.”

In 2010, the world catch of cephalopods was 3.65 million metric tons (MT), of which 2.25 million MT were landed by ten Asian countries — China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan. With the exception of India, significant portions of domestic production were marketed locally due to the strong demand. (It is worth noting that per capita seafood consumption in these countries is high and rising.)

An estimated 1.5 million MT of squid, cuttlefish and octopus were traded (imports) in the international arena in 2009, with a reported value of USD 4.3 billion. Of this, Asian countries imported 734,000 MT, valued at USD 1.8 billion, which shows the region’s dominance in the global cephalopod trade with a 50 percent share by volume and 42 percent share by value. (The actual value was possibly higher because of under?reported imports in certain markets.)

“Asia’s dominance is even greater if we look at exports,” Ferdouse said. “In 2009, a total of 1.5 million MT of squid, cuttlefish and octopus were exported globally with a reported value of USD 4.0 billion. Of this, Asian countries exported 823,000 MT, valued at USD 2.2 billion. Asia’s share of global cephalopod exports thus amounted to 53 percent by volume and 54 percent by value.”

Imports are dominated by squid and cuttlefish, amounting to more than 1 million MT in 2011, and almost every market in South East Asia has increased its imports in recent years. Major shares of domestic landings in Japan, China, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan are also marketed locally as fresh and dried (mainly squid) products.

Asian inter?regional trade for squid and cuttlefish to top up supplies for domestic consumption is very strong. China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia import for export processing, and now even India has started to do the same.

Although China is the top cephalopod importer by volume, Japan remains the leading market in terms of value despite the fact that squid consumption in Japan has been falling since the 1980s. Of the total Chinese cephalopod supplies, 22 to 25 percent go to export markets and the balance is consumed locally, which makes China the largest cephalopod market in the world. Local landings and imports are dominated by squid — one of the most popular and affordable seafood items in China.

The cephalopods market in Asia is a lot more diverse than in other parts of the world. Squid, cuttlefish and octopus can be substituted for each other but cannot be replaced by finfish or shrimp in terms of texture and taste. Therefore Asian countries will continue to draw in imports and deprive traditional European markets of raw material.

Meanwhile, according to Ferdouse, Asia’s re?processing industry will focus more on value-added products for domestic urban markets and also for exports.

INFOFISH is an intergovernmental organization for marketing information and technical advisory services for fishery products in the Asia and Pacific region. It is now offering its services to non-Asian export industries which want to explore and expand markets in Asia.

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