Japanese scallops filling hole created by lower US catch

The shellfish panel at the 2024 GSMC.

U.S. demand for scallops has slowed, but excess Japanese supply being rejected from China has still managed to find a new home filling in the gap of lower U.S. catch rates.

There have been three consecutive years of reductions in U.S. North Atlantic sea scallop landings, and although the quota is expected to rise by 1 million pounds to 26 million pounds in 2024, reduced supply has opened up a window for Japanese scallops to take over market share, according to Northern Wind Chief Commercial Officer Jamie Dwyer.

Speaking at the 2024 Global Seafood Market Conference in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., Dwyer said from 2020 to 2023, Japan increased its U.S. scallop exports from 4.9 million pounds to 14.7 million pounds.

“We've got a huge opportunity in 2024 with the influx of Japanese scallops coming into the U.S.,” Dwyer said.

In August 2023, China instituted a ban on Japanese imports following the release of wastewater from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. That month, Japanese seafood exports to China crashed 67.6 percent, with a significant portion of those exports headed to Chinese factories for processing and reexport, including to the U.S.

U.S. government officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emmanuel, have pledged to ramp up U.S. purchasing to mitigate the economic impact on American importers and consumers, expressing concern about a potential shortage and subsequent rise in seafood prices as a result of China’s ban.

A few months later, U.S. customs reported a surge in Japanese scallop imports, with more than 6 million pounds entering the U.S. in October 2023, according to Dwyer. Meanwhile, China’s scallop exports, which reached 12 million pounds in 2022 and were sitting at 10.5 million pounds for the year through November 2023, are expected to ...

Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource

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