Report: EU’s reliance on pangasius grows


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
October 18, 2010

Freshwater fish, particularly pangasius farmed in Vietnam, is playing a bigger role in the European Union’s whitefish supply, according to a report produced by the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association. Titled Finfish Study 2010, the report was released in Brussels earlier this month.

Last year, the EU’s pangasius supply, which reached 726,000 metric tons (whole weight equivalent), up 4 percent from 2008, exceeded its Alaska pollock supply, at 720,000 metric tons. Reduced pollock catch limits on the U.S. and Russian sides of the Bering Sea were responsible for the decline, according to the report.

In terms of whitefish, only the EU’s cod supply exceeded its pangasius supply, totaling 925,000 metric tons, up from 863,000 metric tons in 2008 but shy of 2006’s peak of 963,000 metric tons. Hake came next at 519,000 metric tons, followed by saithe at 243,000 metric tons, haddock at 214,000 metric tons and Atlantic redfish at 97,000 metric tons. Overall, the EU’s marine whitefish supply fell slightly for the third consecutive year in 2009 to 2.75 million metric tons.

Filling the gap is pangasius, which represented 80 percent of the EU’s 908,000-metric-ton freshwater fish supply last year. Nile perch (108,000 metric tons) and tilapia (30,000 metric tons) made up the bulk of the rest. Vietnamese exports of pangasius fillets jumped from less than 100,000 metric tons in 2004 to more than 600,000 metric tons by 2008, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the EU’s salmon supply came to 813,000 metric tons in 2009, up from 798,000 metric tons the previous year. However, cod has been garnering market share from salmon due to lower cod prices and higher salmon prices worldwide. Reduced production in Chile due to the infection salmon anemia outbreak was the No. 1 cause of salmon prices rising globally, even though Norway offset Chile by increasing its production significantly.

“Falling cod prices in spring 2009 increased consumer demand, particularly in France, where substitution of cod for salmon occurred particularly as the price for that material began to increase,” said the report.

Additionally, the EU’s tuna supply totaled 1.67 million metric tons (live weight) last year, down from 1.72 million metric tons in 2008, while its herring supply grew 7 percent to 1.02 million metric tons and its mackerel supply swelled 23 percent to 489,000 metric tons, according to the report.

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