Fresh insights into the EU's oyster farming sector

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
14 November 2022, at 9:42am

EUMOFA has published a new book on the European oyster farming industry.

oyster trestles at low tide
Oyster trestles in Galway Bay, Ireland

© Dr Ronan Cooney, NUI

Entitled Oysters in the EU, it analyses oyster production and market trends, focusing on the supply chain in France, Ireland and the Netherlands.

With a total production of almost 98,000 tonnes in 2020, the EU-27 was the world’s fifth largest producer (2 percent of total volumes). EU production has been relatively stable between 2011 and 2020 (+1 percent) but decreased by 7 percent between 2019 and 2020. In 2020, almost 83 percent of EU oyster production took place in France (circa 81,000 tonnes). Ireland followed at a distance, with a production amounting to 9,475 tonnes (10 percent of the EU production). Other main producers include Portugal (4 percent) and the Netherlands (2 percent). The EU exports to third countries are higher than imports. In 2021, the EU trade surplus amounted to €54.4 million. France is the main exporter and the main destinations are the Asian markets, mainly China and Hong-Kong. In 2020, oyster consumption in the EU was estimated at 91.488 tonnes live weight equivalent (LWE), with an estimated per capita consumption of 0.2 kg.

The oyster supply chain varies between France, Ireland and the Netherlands. While France is both a major producer and consumer, the Irish and the Dutch markets are small, with small national consumption. Production in both countries is export-oriented. There are also common practices among producers in France to sort and pack the products based on size and quality, whereas a significant share of the Irish production is exported in bulk. In the Netherlands, there is a significant activity of processing and packing, as both national and imported products are packed before being exported.

The supply chains studied reflect the difference between the oyster supply chains in the three countries. These concern the following products:

  • France: oyster under PGI sold in supermarkets.
  • Ireland: 1) high quality special oyster produced in Ireland and exported in bulk to France; 2) high quality special oyster produced in Ireland and exported packed to China.
  • The Netherlands: oysters sold in restaurants.

The main outcomes of the price structure analysis are:

  • The ex-farm prices ranges from €1.80 per kg to €5.50 per kg, depending on size and quality.
  • The retail price (excluding VAT) of oysters varies from €6.58 per kg in France to €19.32 per kg in the Netherlands.
  • The prices of Irish oysters in the export market show significant differences based on the destination: Irish packed oysters are sold at €9.50 per kg on the French market (ex-packer stage) and at €11.50 per kg on the Chinese market (ex-wholesaler stage).