French seafood sales remain buoyant


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
July 11, 2010

After a lackluster 2009, sales of frozen seafood are picking up in France, and demand for fresh fish remains “dynamic,” according to FranceAgriMer.
The government-funded organization last week gathered participants in the aquaculture and fishing industries to share a snapshot of the French seafood market. According to FranceAgriMer, household seafood demand is still relatively buoyant, and demand for fish fillets is particularly dynamic.

Seafood imports into France have been relatively stable since the start of this year, found FranceAgriMer, despite strong growth for the country’s two favorite fish, cod and salmon.

Spain, a key market for France, has been hit hard by Europe’s economic downturn, resulting in a difficult landscape for French seafood exporters. What’s more, the price of seafood imports has crept up due to the depreciation of the euro against the dollar.

Broadening the discussion to Europe, participants in last week’s meeting also mooted the notion that the EU, as a massive importer of seafood products, had a responsibility to encourage a sustainable and responsible seafood industry.

The European Union articulated the sentiment that if the political will existed, the EU could reinforce a clear message for a sustainable and responsible seafood industry and a “fairer” world economy.

“The EU, if it has the political will, could make it clear in international negotiations its objectives (resources, environmental, quality and social) vis a vis fishing and aquaculture industries and for a fairer world economy,” said the fishing council.
The EU represents just 5 percent of the 155 million metric tons of seafood produced worldwide annually. Curiously, although the numbers are diminutive, EU production actually represents more than 10 percent of global seafood consumption and is “at the centre of exchanges for premium products,” underlined FranceAgriMer.
Feeding the EU’s avaricious appetite for seafood, imports (excluding inter-community trade) into the bloc are worth 23 percent of the overall value for the global seafood imports. Norway, China and Iceland are the key suppliers to the EU. When inter-community trade is included in the figures, the EU in value terms represents 44 percent of global seafood imports.

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