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EU household expenditure on fish increases due to pandemic. ‘The EU fish market’ yearly report is a comprehensive analysis of the EU fisheries and aquaculture industry that is produced by EUMOFA.

From 2019 to 2020, household expenditure on fishery and aquaculture products grew by 17%, which was much higher than the 2.1% inflation rate of prices for these products. The growth trend is confirmed by data on household consumption of fresh fish in the EU’s largest fish consuming countries, which showed an increase of 7% in value and 4% in volume. This increase was most likely the result of closures in the hospitality sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent increase of ‘’at-home’’ consumption.

The effects of the pandemic are also apparent from the 2020 data on out-of-home consumption of processed products. The most significant decreases from 2019 figures were registered in the largest countries (e.g. Germany, Spain, France, Italy), which were also the ones where restaurants were closed for longer periods.

Improvement of value of the EU trade balance

Due to decreased imports, the trade deficit in 2020 was 10% or € 2 billion lower than in 2019. Values of EU imports decreased more than 2019 volumes because of the significant decrease of high-value species mainly destined for the hospitality sector, which was part of the shutdowns introduced to control the spread of COVID-19. The volume of exports, on the other hand, showed a slight growth from 2019 but they decreased by 4% in value: cod accounted for most of the overall value decrease, resulting from decreased exports to China and the UK.

Intra-EU exchanges followed the same trend as extra-EU imports, since they largely consist of northern EU Member States exports of products originating from Norway and Iceland – mostly salmon and cod – to other EU countries.

Decreased supply and apparent consumption from 2018 to 2019

Apparent per capita consumption, estimated at 23.97 kg of live weight of mostly wild-caught products, was almost stable in 2019 compared to 2018. According to EUMOFA estimates, in 2019 the EU citizens consumed, on average, 390 grams less of live weight fishery and aquaculture products than in 2018. The drop was driven by a decrease in catches and, consequently, of the apparent consumption of wild products, especially of herring. The total supply of fisheries and aquaculture products for human consumption (production + imports) totalled 14.53 million tonnes of live weight, which represented a 206.402-tonne decrease from 2018. The drop in catches offset the increases in imports and aquaculture production.