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Frozen Fish: A luxury staple

While classified as luxury items, fish fillets are rich in protein and nutrients, and an essential for the health-oriented. Unfortunately, commercially farmed fish have been displaying alarming levels of toxic contamination in recent years. All our waste and pollution ends up in the ocean. Marine life, sensitive to its environment, is affected both in quantity and quality.

Despite this disturbing news, fish might yet play a crucial role in building a more sustainable future. In the seafood import export data, we see that various types of products are included in this category. Let’s examine these and take a closer look at the global market.

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Product Overview

A fillet is a boneless cut of meat. Removing the meat from the bones and the rest of the carcass makes it ideal for refined food preparations. For staple fish consumption, very common in Asian countries, the entire fish is cooked and nothing is wasted.

Other than fish, this category of products also includes Crustaceans like prawns, lobster, and other shellfish.  Even mollusks like snails and fish eggs, or roe, are included here. These can either be fresh or frozen. The culinary world is massive and there are various seafood delicacies that are highly sought after.

Export analysis

Unsurprisingly, each of the top exporting countries has a massive coastal area, although it isn’t the only reason that they are leaders. Countries like Chile and Vietnam have developing economies with vast aquaculture sectors. Fishing is a common livelihood for their people. Meanwhile, countries like the US and China import a lot of fish, only for processing and re-export. Our detailed fish export data also tells us that Norway is well-known for its premium smoked salmon.

Top exporting countries (2020)

  1. China ($3.19 billion)
  2. Chile ($3.13 billion)
  3. Norway ($2.8 billion)
  4. Vietnam ($2.5 billion)
  5. United States ($1.46 billion)

Import analysis

The fish fillet import data has shown how robust the demand for seafood can be. Prices were skyrocketing in Europe in 2022 amid Covid-19 and the Russian war, yet demand remained unaffected. Seafood is a solid part of the cuisine in countries like Japan, Germany, and France. Health-related demand for high-quality protein is also a factor for imports.

Top importing countries (2020)

  1. United States ($6.44 billion)
  2. Japan ($2.73 billion)
  3. Germany ($1.87 billion)
  4. France ($1.81 billion)
  5. Netherlands ($1.13 billion)

What to expect

Over the past two years, China has massively scaled down its fishing industry. For the first time ever, fish fillets are at a trade deficit. Meanwhile, the demand for high-quality fish has only grown in the country. This has created room for other international players to enter the picture.

Most commercial fishing operations today use harmful practices that might cause the marine ecosystem to collapse. Just like in the case of air conditioners, global organisations are pressuring businesses to follow better practices.

Compared to other sources of protein, fishing can potentially be done very sustainably on a smaller scale. There are also major developments in the field of artificial proteins, which is a growing industry.