Seabass and seabream - markets stable with untapped potential

By Sean Roach

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union

The European market for seabass and seabream is growing at a steady
pace, but is its full potential is being stifled because producers
can't offer value added seabass and seabream products at a
competitive price, says a new report.

In its July analysis on different sectors of the seafood industry the Food and Agriculture (FAO) unit Globefish said that sustained demand from traditional markets in Southern Europe was increasing and a slight fall in supply has driven up the average import prices.

The overall seabream and seabass market has a positive outlook, with stable import volumes and a forecast of price decreases. Since 2003, seabream and seabass prices have continually hit their highs in July and reached their lower levels during January, Globefishreports.

The traditional consumers of seabass and seabream in France, Spain and Italy continue to be the largest importers because their national production is insufficient to meet demand. This has led to a larger reliance on Greece and Turkey, who have emerged as the leading producers. The development of farm production in Greece has cemented the country's position as Europe's leading supplier of seabass and seabream, followed by Turkey.

However, while the southern markets trade in whole fish, Northern European markets have a preference for fish that have been processed as fillets. Due to the costs involved in processing, Southern Europe, Greece and Turkey cannot crack markets in Northern Europe since the cheaper farmed species such as tilapia and pangasius have flooded the region.

French demand netted the largest increase in imports of seabream and seabass, up 12 per cent in volume from 2005. The price for the same products rose 20 per cent so far this year to €15.7m.

The French continue to rely on Spanish and Greek suppliers. Their imports of Spanish seabream fell drastically as they increased imports from Greece 23 per cent despite the higher cost. While Spanish imports of seabream fell, the French demand for seabass more than made up for the loss with a 200 per cent increase in seabass imports from Spain.

Spain and Italy have so far witnessed a stabilisation of their seabream and seabass demand in 2006. Spain had a 4 per cent increase in volume and a 6 per cent increase in terms of value bringing the market to €22.2m.

Italy remained the largest importer of seabass and seabream despite slightly reducing their imports over the first four months of 2006. The average import value increased during this time by 7 per cent.

Italy's seabass imports rely on Greek and Turkish suppliers. However the imports of these products decreased over the first four months by 13 per cent in terms of volume and value.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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