By Laine Welch
“A Rising Tide” for seafood sales is predicted by the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (EXIM) in a report that outlines performance and opportunities.
Driving the push is people worldwide recognize the health benefits of seafood, said Jane Lemons, Business Development Specialist for the Office of Small Business at EXIM, an independent federal agency whose mission is “to support American jobs by facilitating U.S. exports.”
Seafood consumption is now growing faster than beef, chicken, and pork; in 2018, the global per capita average was 45.2 pounds per year, and it’s predicted to reach 47.4 pounds in 2030.
As populations—and popularity— continue to grow, EXIM projects global seafood sales will reach nearly $140 billion by 2027 (compared to $113.2 billion in 2020).
Fisheries based in the U.S. exported $4.5 billion in seafood products totaling nearly three billion pounds in 2020. (Of that, 2.2 billion pounds came from Alaska. Seafood has been Alaska’s top export for decades averaging $3.3 billion annually - over half of the state’s total annual export value.)
Top international buyers of U.S. seafood in 2020 included Canada, China and Japan. The bestselling products were live lobster, Alaska pollock surimi, frozen fillets and roe, and frozen sockeye salmon.
“As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic and consumer demand continues to evolve, the potential remains for increased export sales in the future,” Lemons wrote. China, for example, cannot meet the demand of its 1.4 billion people and “this misalignment will only increase as years go by, offering substantial opportunities for export sales.”
Southern European countries such as Spain, Italy, and France are excellent trade partners because, in addition to their high consumption rates, they are also Europe’s major processing nations and re-export to other destinations.
“Fisheries would be wise to consider well located trade hubs, including Hong Kong, which re-exported over 40% of all agricultural products, or the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, which act as a gateway to the rest of mainland Europe,” Lemons said.
She also touted Canada as the United States’ largest export market for agricultural and related products, including fish and seafood. “The U.S.-Canada open trade border provides opportunities for cross-border collaboration between businesses, and as a result, the two countries maintain the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship,” the EXIM report said.
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