By Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris
Published on 12 April, 2011
In 2010, UK seafood operators enjoyed strident growth to export markets, with the sector posting a 13.8 percent increase from 2009 to GBP 1.32 billion.
The figure feeds into overall growth for UK food and non-alcoholic drink exports, which rose 11.4 percent in 2010 to GBP 10.83 billion, breaking the GBP 10 billion barrier for the first time, according to the UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
And out of 20 “key top products” highlighted in the FDF report, fresh fish claimed the No. 1 slot in value terms. Worth GBP 382.3 million in 2010 — a 22.8 percent leap from 2009 — fresh fish beat out chocolate, breakfast cereals and cheese.
In the same listing, crustaceans posted the ninth position, a 5.6 percent rise to GBP 253.1 million. Frozen whole fish and fish fillets claimed 12th and 17th positions, respectively — frozen fish saw a 7.2 percent rise to GBP 223.4 million, and fish fillets leapt 26.9 percent to GBP 154 million. Mollusks squeezed into the 20th position, posting a healthy 15.6 percent hike.
Up 38.4 percent on the previous year, Scotland’s fresh salmon sector drove double-digit growth within the UK’s fresh fish exports, making up 70.8 percent of total fresh fish exports. The United States was the No. 1 fresh salmon market in 2010, shooting up 40 percent on the previous year. France came in at No. 2 with 44.9 percent growth, and Poland moved into the third position from No. 5 in 2009 with 178.8 percent growth.
Unlike fresh salmon, exports of frozen salmon actually fell by 20.5 percent. However, the category represents only 5 percent of total frozen fish exports, explained the FDF report, which is based on data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
By contrast, the frozen mackerel sector saw strident growth, with the French market rising by 71.2 percent to become the No. 3 market and leap-frogging five places since 2009. Germany and Poland were the No. 4 and No. 5 markets, respectively, increasing 51.4 percent and 28.2 percent.
An “extraordinary” 773 percent rise to Poland boosted exports of fish fillets that overall rose 26.8 percent to GBP 154 million and included a 101.6 percent rise to the United States, the No. 2 market.
Crustacean exports recovered from a 1.4 percent fall in 2009, with strong gains in key export markets of France (No. 2), Germany (No. 4) and China (No. 6) in 2010.
Double-digit growth gains were also apparent for mollusks, with exports to Italy, the No. 2 market, rising 38.5 percent and Spain, the No. 3 market, increasing a considerable 59 percent.
Finally, Europe’s continued appetite for smoked salmon helped overall smoked fish exports rise 2.8 percent to GBP 72 million. Smoked salmon claimed a 74 percent share of total smoked fish exports. Italy, France and Germany represented the top three markets for the category.
In non-EU markets, perhaps the most striking figure from the report comes from the United Arab Emirates. Exports of frozen fish to this region rose a whopping 2,546 percent in 2010.
Seafood exporters also enjoyed strong demand from the United States. According to the FDF report, seafood now makes up 37 percent of all food and non-alcoholic drinks exports to the United States.