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OECD and FAO outlook for 2011–2020 on the seafood market

01 August 2011

For the first time, the OECD–FAO Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020 includes a chapter on fish, which looks at the market situation, market trends and prospects and the main issues and uncertainties affecting seafood trade.

The chapter on market trends and prospects highlights the fact that, in 2015, for the first time in history, fish for human consumption originating from aquaculture are expected to surpass those from capture fisheries. Aquaculture will continue to expand in all continents in terms of new areas and species, as well as intensifying and diversifying the product range for species and product forms that respond to consumer needs. African production should increase over the next decade by an expected 70% due to increased private-sector capacity, rising local demand and local policies promoting aquaculture. With growing income, people will consume an increasing share of fish in fillets or in other value-added forms, thus creating more residues to be used for fish meal.

According to the projections, total fish and fishery products will remain highly traded, with about 38% of world fish production exported in 2020. Developed countries will account for about 60% of world imports of fish for human consumption, while developing countries, including China, will continue to be the main exporters. In 2020, 51% of world fish exports for human consumption will originate from Asia, with China maintaining its position of the world’s leading fish exporter.

The fishery industries of developing countries will continue to rely heavily on developed countries, not only as markets for their exports, but increasingly as a source of imports for local consumption and as suppliers of raw material for their primary processing industries. A growing share of exports from developing countries will continue to consist of processed fish products prepared from imports of unprocessed fish.

Future expansion of trade will be affected by several issues, including:

  • prices and margins throughout the fisheries value chain, e.g. margins to producers;
  • rising commodity prices in general and the impact on producers, e.g. soybean prices influencing the price of fish feed and the price of farmed fish;
  • energy prices and the impact on fisheries, e.g. growing energy prices can lead to higher costs, in particular in the more energy-intensive fishing practises in capture fisheries;
  • introduction of private standards, including for environmental and social purposes, and their endorsement by major retailers, e.g. the ability of countries to implement private standards could affect sourcing.

Editorial comment

The projections made in this report are based on assumptions which may or may not be realised, including on international trade, long-term productivity of stocks, evolution of the economy, etc. However, despite the high level of uncertainty surrounding the realisation of these projections, the future issues affecting the expansion of fish trade highlighted in the report are important for ACP countries to consider. ACP countries should design a long-term development plan for their fisheries sectors, in order to help them make strategic choices for a model of exploitation which addresses issues such as the energy-efficiency of the fleets, meeting social and environmental standards, and ensuring that a sufficient margin is left to the producers to ensure decent living conditions for those involved in fish production.


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