Europe increased its mussel imports in the last few years
Mussel demand in the European market has increased in the last few years and imports from Chile are covering the consumption, especially in France, the largest European importer of live and frozen mussels.
Mussel farming in Chile has grown from a standing start in 2000 to become a force to be reckoned with, and now has an annual production of more than 300,000 metric tons, announced Seafood Source magazine quoting a study released by Via-Aqua.
According to FAO Fishstat, world production of mussels has grown steadily since the mid-1970s to reach 2 million MT in 2016. The five largest players are China with 879,000 MT per year, Chile with 302,000 MT, Spain with 216,000 MT, Thailand with 115,000 MT, and New Zealand with 94,000 MT. The whole of Europe produces 470,000 MT, with Italy at 67,000 MT, France at 57,000 MT, and the Netherlands at 54,000 MT. South Korea, a relative newcomer to mussel-farming, now produces 55,000 MT per year.
Consumers in Europe are demanding especially the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis). Mussels represent nearly one-third of all aquaculture products sold in the European Union. European production has fallen slightly, while consumption has increased, hence the rise in imports from outside the European Union. France imports live mussels from other European countries, particularly the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain. Smaller imports are taken from countries including England, Scotland, Ireland and Denmark. Imports of frozen mussels in various formats originate in Chile and New Zealand. The majority of mussel consumption by French consumers occurs at home, rather than in restaurants, despite the ubiquity of “moules et frites” (mussels and chips) on French menus.
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