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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement3 December 2019Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries4 min read

The EU Fish Market 2019 edition is out: everything you wanted to know about the EU market for fish and seafood

If you want to know what fishery products are exported or imported, when and where, what is consumed and by whom, what are the main trends of the European fisheries and aquaculture sector, then have a look at the newly released EU Fish market annual report. The 2019 edition provides analyses of landings, import and export origins and destinations, along with an overview of how EU Member States’ fisheries and aquaculture sectors fit into the global picture.

How much fish do Europeans eat per year? Which are the 3 countries which consume most fish and seafood and which consume the least?

Consumption of fish and seafood in the EU was estimated at 24.35 kg per capita in 2017. On average, EU citizens ate half a kilo less compared to the previous year. Portugal remains the absolute champion in terms of per capita consumption. In 2017, the Portuguese ate 56.8 kg of fish and seafood per capita, which is more than twice the EU level. After Portugal, Spain and Malta are the countries in which most fish and seafood is eaten. Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania registered the lowest level in the EU in terms of per capita consumption. Compared with 2016, the most significant decrease in absolute terms concerned Luxembourg (-2.6 kg per capita) while the most notable growth was observed in Belgium (+2.3 kg per capita).

Which are the fishes most bought in Europe?

The top five species consumed in the EU – tuna, cod, salmon, Alaska pollock and shrimps – accounted for 44% of total volumes in 2017.

How much do Europeans spend on fish and seafood in average? How does it compare to the amount spent on meat? Which are the 3 countries which spend most and which spend least?

EU household expenditures continued an upward trend in 2018, reaching €59.3 billion, 24% higher than in 2009. The EU-28 average per capita household expenditure on fish and seafood amounted to €115 in 2018. EU consumer prices of fish and seafood increased with an average 3% per year from 2009 to 2018.

In none of the EU countries the expenditure on fish and seafood is higher than that for meat. Since 2009, at EU level, households spent around one-quarter of the amount spent on meat for purchasing fish and seafood (€226 billion in 2018).

In 2018, Italy, France, Spain were the countries with the highest level of total expenditure, while Malta, Slovenia and Cyprus those with the lowest level.

Which products have seen the most important price differences in the last two years?

From 2008 to 2017, the value of seabass and gilthead seabream farmed in the EU increased considerably. Greece registered a 50% increase for both; in Spain, the increase for seabass was by 125%.

Do Europeans mostly buy wild caught or farmed products?

Wild-caught products predominated in the EU fish and seafood market, accounting for three-quarters of the total per capita consumption. Although slightly less than in 2016, the 2017 consumption of farmed products in the EU was 2% above its decade average.

In 2017, the volume of products landed in the EU reached a 10-year peak of 4.68 million tonnes, mainly due to the significant growth of sandeel landings in Denmark. At the same time, decreasing prices of some of the main landed species, especially of blue whiting and herring, caused a slight decrease in overall value of fisheries production.

In 2017, aquaculture production in the EU reached a 10-year high of 1.37 million tonnes with a value of more than €5 billion. Its value almost doubled in those 10 years, due to the increased production of high value species, such as salmon, seabass and bluefin tuna, and to the strong price increase of some major species, including salmon, seabass, gilthead seabream, oyster and clam.

How much of what the citizens consumes comes from the EU? How much is imported and from where? What does the EU export and where?

The EU self-sufficiency ratio, which measures the capacity of EU Member States to meet demand from their own production, reached 43% in 2017 – in line with its 10-year average. The internal demand of seafood in the EU is mostly met through imports, as they cover around 60% of the total supply (2017). The EU trade balance deficit reached a negative peak of more than €20 billion.

Salmon, cod, tuna, Alaska pollock, fishmeal and shrimps are the most imported products. On the other hand, almost 15% of EU supply is exported. The main products exported are herring, mackerel, blue whiting, tuna, fishmeal and fish oil.

More than one-quarter of fish and seafood products imported in the EU originates from Norway. Sweden and Denmark, the main entry points for Norwegian products into the internal market, allow the imports to reach other Member States’ markets. The US and China are the main markets in value terms for EU exports, but the highest volumes are actually destined for Nigeria and Norway.

What are the main dynamics of major species?

ln 2017, the estimated level of consumption of tuna reached of 3.07 kg per capita. This is the highest level annual consumption ever reached since 2008 (3.00 kg per capita).

In 2018, cod was the second most valued species traded within the EU. Most of these flows originated from the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

The supply of Alaska pollock to the EU market reached the highest volume ever – 305,000 tonnes – in 2018.

Hake was the main contributor to the decline of the EU household consumption of fresh fish and seafood.


EUMOFA is a platform developed by the European Commission that offers information on the European Union fisheries and aquaculture sector. It gives access to the latest industry data, analyses EU markets dynamics, and supports business decisions and policy-making.

EUMOFA's annual report “The EU fish market” is available in English. The French, Spanish, German and Italian versions will be released soon.

Browse the “Studies and reports” section of the EUMOFA website for an overview of all publications released by EUMOFA.

Read more about EUMOFA.


Publication date
3 December 2019
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries