By Jason Holland, SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from London
Published on 14 February, 2013
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), Europe’s favorite whitefish, will be available in unprecedented volumes this year thanks to massive quota increases in the two largest market-supplying fisheries, Iceland and the Barents Sea. But while the increased supplies are testament to the good management practices that are in place, there are concerns about what effects the significantly greater total catch will have on cod prices and how these will affect sales of other products in the fish category.
Iceland’s total allowable catch (TAC) for the 2012/2013 season that got underway in September increased 22.5 percent to 196,000 metric tons (MT), while the Barents Sea TAC for 2013 was set at 1 million MT by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission, an increase of 33 percent or 249,000 MT.
The increased cod supply comes at a time when several important markets are economically weak, which many observers believe limits the amount of additional cod they can absorb, even when factoring in the more competitively priced products. ButJohan Kvalheim, Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) director for France and the United Kingdom, doesn’t believe exporters will endure any major problems.
“The demand is strong and we know that consumers will buy cod if they find it available in stores. And with good supply, a high demand and promotional activities together with the NSC, I am definitely optimistic for 2013,” he said.
With a value of EUR 236.7 million (USD 314 million) in the first 10 months of 2012, an increase of 7.2 percent year-on-year, cod (all sources) consolidated its position as the second most important fresh fish for the French consumer, behind salmon. It now accounts for 14.9 percent of the country’s total volume of fresh fish sales.