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Mackerel fish exports from UK, Ireland, Faroes to China surge in 2014

Mackerel fish exports from UK, Ireland, Faroes to China surge in 2014

BEIJING:  Mackerel exports from the UK, Ireland and the Faroe Islands to China surged spectacularly in 2014, in turn reducing Norway’s market dominance in the country.

Fresh import data from Customs Inform, available here, shows the UK has gone from accounting for barely 1% of China’s mackerel import volumes in 2013, to being the second largest supplier with 11% of market share in the first nine months of 2014.

In volumes and value, the increase is impressive the UK went from selling less than 800,000 metric tons in the whole of 2013 to over 5 million tons in the first three quarters of 2014.

Ireland and the Faroe Islands have also turned around from being small or insignificant suppliers in 2013 to supplying, combined, a tenth of China’s mackerel imports.

These three countries’ growth in turn has diluted Norway’s market share from 85% in 2013, to 63% in the first nine months of 2014, the data shows.

However, they do not appear to have cannibalized any sales. Norway’s mackerel imports to China stayed pretty much flat, or very slightly down, year-on-year.

Instead, the market has expanded. The data shows China imported 20% more mackerel in volume in the first three quarters of 2014 than in the same period last year.

Much of the mackerel sold by Norway to China is actually bound for Japan. Customs Inform’s data does not specify if the same is true for the mackerel imported from the UK, Ireland and the Faroes.

However, the UK has been actively pushing for exports into Japan and the Far East as a result of Russia’s food import embargo on western nations. In October, the Scottish Seafood Collaborative Group said the large Japanese supermarket chain Aeon had run a bespoke promotion on Scottish mackerel.

“Japan is one of the top priority markets identified in the industry export plan, and there is a real opportunity for Scottish companies to take advantage of the growing consumer demand for quality products with strong provenance,” Susan Beattie, head of food & drink at Scottish Development International, which helped broker the deal, said at the time.

Ian McFadden, who chairs the Scottish Pelagic Processors Association, had told Undercurrent News earlier the same month that Scotland had been able to find new markets for mackerel in the Far East, thanks to the help of Scottish Development International. “Some of them have come up with interesting suggestions, which we have shipped to,” McFadden had said.

Full details including a ranking on the top importers and exporters, and contact details, can be found on Customs Inform’s report