Ecuadorian tuna sector eyes US, Canada markets as sales to Europe fall

Tuna caught off the coast of Ecuador.

Ecuador is actively seeking to increase its tuna exports to the U.S. and Canada, as its shipments to Europe – the largest market for the product – have continued to fall.

Historically, Ecuador has exported an average of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of tuna annually, of which 51 percent goes to Europe, 13 percent to the United States, and the rest to Latin American countries, bringing in a total of some USD 1.3 billion (EUR 1.19 billion). However, in 2023, the country sold just USD 1.02 billion (EUR 93.7 million) of the product, which was about USD 57 million (EUR 52 million) less than in 2022, when it brought in USD 1.08 billion (EUR 99.2 billion).

This drop in value mirrored the trends seen in export volume; in 2023, Ecuador exported 203,474 MT of tuna to global markets, while in 2022, it sent 228,758 MT abroad. Europe bought 110,144 MT of tuna from Ecuador in 2023 – a 1.6 percent dip from 2022, when it purchased 111,895 MT.

The declines in value and volume were due to several factors, including the war between Russia and Ukraine that has generated high inflation in Europe, leading buyers to seek ways in which they can reduce costs. One way to do just that is to opt for cheaper tuna from China, Mónica Maldonado, the executive secretary of the Ecuadorian Chamber of Tuna Industrialists and Processors (Ceipa), told El Universo.

Ecuador’s tuna sector also has its hopes pinned on the passing of the ...

Photo courtesy of NadyaRa/Shutterstock


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