Where the opportunity lies for scallop producers

Published on
December 2, 2015

Annual landings of king scallops (Pecten maximus) and queen scallops (Aequipecten opercularis) are up to 35,000 MT per year, with king scallops dominating both production and demand. Imports of a variety of scallop species amount to more than 130,000 MT, and minor volumes are also processed and exported.

In 2013, scallops were ranked as the fourth largest seafood import into France, behind shrimp, tuna and salmon. The top five seafood exporters (all species) to the country were Norway, UK, Spain, Ecuador, and Netherlands, with the USA in sixth place. Peru and the U.S. together account for nearly 60 percent of frozen scallop imports into France.

A new report on the performance of the French retail scallop market by market analyst specialists Marketing Seafood, shows that it was worth around EUR 250 million (USD 265 million) in 2014, down EUR 50 million (USD 53 million) from its peak of EUR 300 million (USD 317 million) in 2009.

“The scallop market is another example of a sector hit by the shrinking purchasing power of French consumers, combined with a weak Euro currency,” said Marie-Christine Monfort, the report’s author.

The illustrated 54 page report and accompanying Excel spreadsheet, look at which species of scallops are sold in multiple retail stores including supermarkets, hard discounters and freezer centres, and detail the format, size, weight, price, packaging, processor and type of labelling, with information gathered in-store in November 2015. It is an invaluable resource for scallop suppliers.

In the study, scallop imports were found to come from Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, USA, Canada, Chile, Peru, Russia, Iceland, Argentine, Uruguay and Brazil, as well as the UK, Denmark and the Faroe Islands.

French consumers buy around 10 percent of their scallops as a shucked product and around 5 percent as a live in-shell animal, although this varies depending on their proximity to the coast. However, the most notable difference in the past five years has been an increase in the number of value added products incorporating scallop meat, particularly frozen products, from less than 10 percent of total demand, to more than 80 percent.

“This is a good example of processors innovating to incorporate a favourite seafood into a meal in a way that is more affordable for consumers,” said Monfort.

Of the 22 French companies processing scallops, full details of which are given in the report, all use imported product, which opens up excellent opportunities for global scallop producers seeking new markets.

As might be expected, the retail price of live scallops varies with a number of factors such as availability and season. Peak prices are obtained during the Christmas/holiday period, when French consumers purchase more seafood than at any other time of the year. Prices for fresh shucked meats depend on the level of soaking, which increases the amount of water in the scallop, and whether the roe is left on or removed. Unlike consumers in the USA, French diners like to see the roe on their scallops, particularly when served in a restaurant.

However, to ensure consumer food safety, there are strict rules governing testing regimes for the presence of algal toxins, which can accumulate in the roe.

Worldwide, more than 40 commercial species of scallop are exploited. Of these, 18 species account for the greater part of the 2.5 million MT live weight global production from capture fisheries and aquaculture.

Since the 1970s, cultivation of scallops has increased rapidly and now accounts for nearly 70 percent of total production.

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