Dynamics of Russia's squid imports by product form and species in 2004-2007. Part 1.

June 23, 2008 16:34

In the period from 2004 to 2007 the Russian market of imported squid displayed mixed trends with a rise in 2005, a decrease in 2006 and a dramatic rise in 2007.

Though the Russian market of squid was still dominated by domestically-produced frozen products originating from the nation's Far East, by the year 2007 a considerable share of the market was occupied by imported products.

As for squid imports, it was practically completely represented by value-added products such as mince, cleaned tubes, rings, tentacles, seafood cocktail, etc. The Russian importers also purchased frozen squid, but its share in the total volume of squid imports did not exceed 10%.

From such countries as Chile, Peru and Argentina the importers brought mostly cleaned tubes, fillets, mince, wings, tentacles and other products. In the meantime, value-added products such as rings, fillets and seafood cocktail mostly in poly packs were imported from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Denmark, Spain and Belgium.

Although the below report focuses on Russia's import of frozen products, it is fair to notice that the country has been also importing a considerable volume of salted and dried squid. More specifically, according to expert estimates, the largest supplier of these products was China with the volume of more than 8000 tonnes in the first 10 months of 2007.


Average prices of imported squid in 2005-2007 grew nearly 1.5-fold from 1.06 to 1.52 USD per kilo with a special rise recorded in 2006 when prices jumped by 36%. The largest appreciation was reported for squid meat (+43%), tubes and surimi (+39%). Frozen squid and seafood cocktails appreciated by 32%. The lowest price rise was observed for squid fillets the prices of which grew by 16%.

In the year 2007 the price growth slowed down and amounted to 9%. The positive trend of squid prices could be attributed to a 22% growth of frozen squid prices, a 12% rise of surimi prices, an 11% rise of seafood cocktails and a 6% growth of squid meat. In the meantime, squid tubes depreciated by 3% and squid fillet prices remained unchanged.

The larger growth of prices of frozen w/r squid as compared to other products could be explained by growing share of more expensive products meant for sale to restaurants and supplied in small lots.

Russia's squid imports by products

From 2004 to 2007 the Russian import of squid products displayed a shift of shipments towards value-added products for the retail sector and the HoReCa as well as convenience products ready to eat.

The trend could be clearly seen in the graph as below. During the period under analysis there was a stable growth of import of such products as squid fillets, cocktail and rings. Despite a total decrease of import volumes in 2006, purchases of the above mentioned products did not decline, but even went up.

That could be explained by a steady demand for value-added products from restaurants, cafes and other foodservice business against insufficient domestic supply. Such products are remarkable for their convenience as they do not need to be cooked for a long time. Besides, consumers' preferences also shift to convenience products and squid tubes have been imported into the country mostly in cleaned and blanched form thus making the product more attractive for cooking as compared to block frozen skin-on tubes.

In the period from 2004 to 2007 Russia's imports of squid products displayed mixed trends. More specifically, from 2004 the nation's purchases of squid products decreased from 820 tonnes to 576 tonnes in 2005 and to 341 tonnes in 2006, followed by a dramatic increase to 5257 tonnes in 2007. Growing shipments of squid tubes could be attributed to rises of purchases from such countries as Argentina, China, New Zealand, Taiwan and to a smaller extent from other countries.

In 2004-2007 the Russian importers purchased tubes of such squid species as Illex, Loligo, Todarodes pacificus, Notodarus, etc. The products were shipped to Russia both in cleaned, frozen form in cartons, bags and in poly packs of 500 grams, 1 kg, 2.5 kg and 5 kg.

Though import of squid tubes from 2004 to 2006 was decreasing, in 2007 there was a large rise of shipments of the product. The large rise could be attributed to reduced catches of squid in the Russian Far East with the resulting shortage compensated by large purchases of Argentinean squid. The share of Illex tubes originating from Argentina (which is actually a direct competitor of B.magister squid harvested in the Russian Far East) in the total import of squid in 2007 accounted for 59%. The volume of Russia's purchases of Illex tubes from the country jumped from zero in 2006 to 3079 tonnes in 2007. The average prices of Argentinean Illex tubes imported to Russia amounted to 1.56 USD per kilo (ca.RUB55.00-60.00 per kilo in wholesale trade) which was smaller as compared to the Russian Far East squid prices of ca.65.00-70.00 per kilo in 2007.

The Russian importers purchased frozen non-cleaned or cleaned Illex tubes in cartons or poly packs mostly directly from Argentina, the production country, and via Germany.

The second place in shipments of frozen squid tubes to Russia belonged to China with a share of 27%. The volume of Russia's shipments of Chinese squid in 2007 amounted to 1397 tonnes, which was 11 times larger as compared to 125 tonnes in 2006.

China shipped to Russia tubes of such squid species as Illex and Todarodes pacificus. Products from China were more value-added including glazed and shatter packed products under such trade marks as Bukhta Izobilia and TIMAX in poly packs varying in weight from 500 grams to 5 kilos. Therefore, the average prices of Chinese squid tubes imported into Russia were somewhat larger than those of Argentinean squid, 1.63 USD per kilo. The products from China were shipped directly to Russia and only a small share of squid was imported via Germany.

The third largest producing country for squid tubes meant for the Russian market was New Zealand with a share of 7%. The volume of Russia's purchases of squid tubes from New Zealand came up from 1 tonne in 2006 to 391 tonnes in 2007. From New Zealand the Russian importers shipped block frozen gutted Nototodarus squid in cartons for sale and processing. The shipments were carried out directly from New Zealand. The average prices of NZ squid tubes amounted to 1.50 USD per kilo.

Other producer countries for squid tubes imported into Russia were Taiwan, Uruguay, Spain, South Korea, Peru, India, Thailand and other. The geography of shipments was actually very wide.

There was also a drastic rise of shipments of squid tubes from Taiwan (from zero to 167 tonnes), Spain (from zero to 37 tonnes), Uruguay (from 18 to 71 tonnes), India (from 510 kilos to 17 tonnes).

However, not all the countries displayed increases of shipments to Russia. For example, in 2007 the Russian importers completely ceased purchases of squid tubes from the USA which shipped 74 tonnes of B.magister squid tubes in 2006.

To be completed with diagrams to be included in the full story.

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