The long term outlook is positive for the two species. The majority of consumers are still found in Mediterranean countries but sales have become promising in more Northern markets such as the UK, Germany and Russia. Even exports to the USA have increased with Greek shipments of fresh bass reaching 692 tonnes during the first six months of 2011, up from 388 tonnes in 2010 during the same period.
Imports of seabass and seabream in Italy increased by seven per cent during the first two quarters of 2011, even though this was a period of rising prices, with total import values growing by 19 per cent. Better statistics could be part of the explanation as in the past much of the product was imported in the unidentified category. Consumption and imports have been growing with the two species now firmly established not only in all supermarket fish counters, but also in most restaurants that offer fresh fish on their menus.
Consumption of imported bass and bream continued growing in the first six months of 2011, six per cent up compared with the same period of 2010. Greece was the main supplier followed by Turkey. Domestic Spanish producers, however, are struggling, given their higher cost base.
Consumption and imports of bream declined during the reporting period. Bass imports increased to some extent given the lower prices for this species, but not enough to compensate for lower bream purchases; the combined imports for the two declined by four per cent.
The UK market continues to see growth in consumption and imports with a 29 per cent rise in volumes during the first six months of 2011. Greece was the principal supplier.
Weakening of prices is a seasonal phenomenon with ample supply of bass and bream during the autumn, often in competition with wild local fish for the same fresh market. From December onwards, the market should tighten as a result of strong demand and diminishing supplies.April 2012