FEEDING EUROPE FARMED FISH: TRENDS IN PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION AND TRADE
Editor/ Mohamed Shihab
Europe remains the wealthiest seafood market in the world, but faced growing competition with other international markets. Faced with this competition we explore whether Europe maintain enough imports of farmed fish. To answer this question we review trade production, trade and consumption data for Europe and three Southeast Asian countries (Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam). Four important trends emerged.
First:aquaculture production and consumption in the EU has stagnated over the last decade, while it has boomed in Southeast Asia.
Second: Europe's consumption of seafood has levelled off, while consumption in Southeast Asia has continued to expand for both the rich and the poor.
Third: the relative share of farmed fish sold from Thailand and Vietnam (the first and second largest exporter to Europe) is declining.
Fourth: the EU will continue to become more dependent on seafood imports from other parts of the world to maintain its current level of fish consumption, just as it is losing market share to emerging domestic markets and new export markets such as China.
The consequences of changes to global demand hold a number of consequences for Europe. Not only will competition for fish imports continue to grow, the relative power of Europe to regulate safe and sustainable production, as it has done to date, is likely to decrease.
In short, as the relative market share of Europe declines, so will its regulatory and normative control (through various food safety, traceability and eco-certification) over the industry.
To maintain aquaculture based consumption into the future Europe will either have to expand production, or trade agreements will be required to capture enough fish in an ever more competitive global market.