While the European Mollusc Market Struggles with the Pandemic, Brexit Emerges Another Serious Threat to the UK’s Producers
IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – Molluscs (Scallops, Mussels, Cuttle Fish, Squid, and Octopus) – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends, and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.
Molluscs are one of the best-known types of seafood in the EU. These include scallops, mussels, cuttlefish, squid, and octopus, etc. The market is well established and characterized by a high rate of per capita consumption in comparison with other regions. Molluscs are traditionally used in Mediterranean cuisine, they can be consumed on their own or as an ingredient in traditional dishes. Since molluscs have been a well-known and popular product for a long time, their consumption is mainly determined by the population size and the dynamics of disposable incomes.
In 2019, the EU molluscs market amounted to $3.6B (IndexBox estimates). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.1% from 2012 to 2019; the trend pattern remained consistent, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations being observed throughout the analyzed period. The level of consumption peaked at $3.8B in 2018 and then fell modestly in the following year. In 2019, molluscs consumption totaled 674K tonnes, flattening at 2018 figure.
The countries with the highest volumes of molluscs consumption in 2019 were Spain (309K tonnes), Italy (176K tonnes), and Portugal (41K tonnes), together accounting for 78% of total consumption. France, Greece, Germany and the UK lagged somewhat behind, together comprising a further 14%. In value terms, the largest mollusks markets in the European Union were Spain ($1.5B), Italy ($1B), and France ($280M), with a combined 77% share of the total market. The countries with the highest levels of molluscs per capita consumption in 2019 were Spain (6.61 kg per person), Portugal (4 kg per person) and Italy (3 kg per person).
Since the beginning of 2020, due to restrictive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market has been facing significant challenges related to the destruction of the usual sales channels and disruptions in the supply chains. The HoReCa sector was almost completely paralyzed for several months, which significantly reduced the demand for molluscs and other types of seafood. However, retail sales did not decline as much as in-store food demand increased as consumers cook more at home and buy more products suitable for long storage. Another threat came from the possible disruption of molluscs supply chains due to the lower transport activity and quarantine restrictions.
The mollusc market is expected to contract over 2020 amid a marked drop in demand from the HoReCa sector, and will resume weak growth in 2021 as the HoReCa and tourism sectors find their ‘new normality’. In the medium term, the market is expected to grow moderately with a CAGR of +1.0% between 2020 and 2030, which is projected to bring the market to 703K tonnes by the end of 2030. However, these expectations are vulnerable to a risk of intensifying the second wave of the pandemic.
Brexit poses another significant threat to the mollusc market, a problem even more serious for the UK itself than for the EU. After Brexit, the rules for third countries apply to the UK from 2021, and therefore the vast majority of mollusc sales are no longer legal since the EU cannot import mollusc from Class B waters.
Before Brexit, the UK was the third-largest mollusc exporter in the EU, with shipments of 11K tonnes in 2019. Meanwhile, Spain (145K tonnes) remains the major exporter of molluscs, comprising near 64% (IndexBox estimates) of the total exports. Portugal (25K tonnes) held the second position in the ranking.
Although the UK’s share of total exports is relatively small, more than $72M of shipments are at stake (at wholesale prices excluding retail margins), not to mention possible losses of incomes for British mollusc producing staff. Without a special agreement, the mollusc trade between the UK and EU countries cannot continue normally, and this situation threatens the existence of export-oriented British producers. The need for COVID testing for drivers delivering goods to the EU poses another threat as it degrades the quality of seafood due to delays.
The pandemic, coupled with the UK’s exit from the EU, could lead to noticeable changes in the European mollusc market, which will not only affect sales channels and supply chains but also lead to market redistribution among producers from other countries.
Source: IndexBox AI Platform