Switching from sturgeon – a look at global salmon and trout roe consumption

EUMOFA is focusing on the production, trade and consumption of trout and salmon roe as Japan tops the tables for roe imports in 2021.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
22 October 2022, at 8:00am
salmon eggs
Salmon roe

Salmon and trout roe are the most widely consumed and commercially important fish roe products aside from sturgeon caviar © Benchmark

Salmon and trout roe are the most widely consumed and commercially important fish roe products aside from sturgeon caviar. Caviar analogues, such as salmon and trout roe, are less expensive alternatives to traditional caviar from sturgeons.

Salmon roe is mainly produced from wild salmon. Given this, the majority of salmon roe production happens in countries with large stocks of wild Pacific salmon such as the USA, Russia and Japan. Alaska is the primary producer of salmon roe in the USA, with a production of about 13.335 tonnes in 2021. Russia produced about 29.500 tonnes of salmon roe in 2021. Production increased in both Alaska and Russia from the previous year, by 83 percent in Alaska and nearly 50 percent in Russia.

According to Eurostat, EU Member States produced a total of 998 tonnes of trout roe in 2020 for a value of roughly €16 million. This was an increase of 12 percent in terms of volume and 1 percent in terms of value when compared to 2019.

The USA has been the main exporter of salmon and trout roe to EU Member States. In 2021, 1.899 tonnes were exported from the USA to the EU at a value of €18.068 million. Exports mainly went to Germany (55 percent) and Lithuania (33 percent). From 2017 to 2021 export volume of salmon and trout roe from the USA to EU Member States has been stable. During the period 16 percent of total export volume went to EU Member States and contributed with 17 percent of total value from exports. Export volumes of salmon and trout roe from Russia to the EU are negligible.

According to stakeholders, trout roe is sold at roughly half the price of salmon roe. According to industry players, demand for trout roe rises when the availability of salmon roe is limited, or the price has increased. Trout roe may be exported both under the code “caviar substitutes” which covers roe from a multitude of species or under codes used for salmon roe, making the actual trade difficult to identify in trade statistics.

salmon and trout roe
Salmon and trout roe

In 2021 Japan imported an estimated 19.780 tonnes salmon and trout roe at a value of €438 million

As the largest importer of salmon and trout roe, the market dynamics in Japan reflect the global dynamics of the salmon and trout roe market. In 2021 Japan imported an estimated 19.780 tonnes salmon and trout roe at a value of €438 million. This was an increase of 57 percent in terms of volume and 101 percent in terms of value when compared with 2020.