Salmon dethrones shrimp to become the most traded fish

Published on
January 19, 2016

Salmon has bested shrimp as the most traded fish, accounting for approximately 20 percent of seafood swapped globally in 2015, according to the latest FAO monthly estimates.

According to the Financial Times, “seafood is the highest traded food commodity by value, and shrimp has been the most traded species for decades.” However, salmon did overtake the species before in 2013, when it accumulated 17 percent of total traded value for seafood whereas shrimp has a 15 percent share. In 2015, shrimp was responsible for 16 percent of all seafood traded in the year, per FAO.

Audun Lem, a seafood official at the FAO, noted that when compared to shrimp, salmon is quite versatile, which could account for the shift in prominence toward the pink fish.

“Salmon is very versatile — it can be canned, smoked and processed in other ways. Shrimp has more issues in production volatility,” Lem told the Times.

What’s more, international shrimp and prawn trade has been affected by disease over the years, particularly in Thailand. Asian production has been dealing with the effects of early mortality syndrome since 2012, and saw prices climb to a record high in 2014 as an EMS-related aftereffect. Prices finally shot down by 15-20 percent in 2015 as output recovery gained traction, reported the Times.

Meanwhile, salmon trade has seen increased demand in the United States and Europe. Higher prices have been attached to the fish, particularly stocks coming from Norway, which remains one of the top producers of salmon. Chilean salmon production, on the other hand, has had to grapple with plummeting prices and rising production costs over the past year.

New entrants into the fish farming sector – such as Mitsubishi, which bought Norwegian salmon producer Cermaq in 2014, and Cargill, which scooped up Norway’s EWOS, a fish feed producer – may have also played a part in boosting the salmon trade, analyzed the Times.

This could change for the salmon industry in 2016, however, as negative growth in the Russian, Brazilian and Chinese markets inevitably effects demand.

“We’ve seen serious demand issues in some countries,” said Gorjan Nikolik, seafood analyst at Rabobank, to the Times.

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500