Russian seafood imports displaying fast growth in 1st quarter 2021

April 28, 2021 00:33

After the challenging year 2020, the dynamics of Russian seafood imports in Q1 have shown good acceleration, reports

According to DEFA Group (Russia’s major importer), the total Q1 imports volume under HSC 03 have increased by 16% compared to Q1 2020 and amounted to 130.7 thousand metric tons. An increase has been noted in most of the main groups (except for the canned) while some stagnation has been observed with the pelagic species, where imports have remained at about the level of last year with a slight decrease.

DEFA has found the following particular developments within the main import groups.


The total salmonids import amounted to 24.2 thousand tons displaying an increase in almost all items, with the exception of Coho salmon as its supplies were extremely limited.

The growth driver in this group was Turkish rainbow trout, both chilled and fresh-frozen. Its imports increased by a total of 5.5 thousand tons (+360%). The quality of Turkish trout has improved significantly over the past 5 years. This was facilitated by both the country's vast natural resources and significant investments by Turkish entrepreneurs in the development of aquaculture. The Russian market has developed a taste for Turkish trout and its popularity is growing from year to year.

The volume of imports of Chilean frozen sea trout, by contrast, decreased by 34%. Despite the growth in the import of salmon and salmon fillets from Chile, the total import of salmonids from Chile decreased by 3 thousand tons (-20%) due to a significant drop in the volume of Coho salmon and a certain decrease in sea trout shipments.


This largest group has remained stable in relation to 2020 with total imports amounting to 41.1 thousand metric tons.

At the same time, the volume of mackerel imports was halved as was expected, since Faroese mackerel vessels have a number of restrictions on fishing due to the Brexit situation. Thus, the Pelagic group was able to maintain the volumes only due to the import of capelin. It should be noted that in 2019 a moratorium on capelin harvesting in the Northern Fisheries was introduced. The population recovered only in the winter of 2021 and capelin fishing was resumed.

Shellfish and crustaceans

In the shellfish group, active growth of + 80% has been achieved with the total imports volume amounting to 30.5 thousand tons in the first three months.

Although an increase is observed in almost all species, the main dynamics are created by shrimps (+94.4% with 21.5 thousand tons in volume).

For squid, the growth is ensured thanks to the fillet of giant squid, the import of which increased more than 6 times and amounted to 2.6 thousand tons.

For mussels, the rapid growth is demonstrated by shell-on mussels with their volume rising by 64% as they are confidently catching up with mussel meat.

White fish

For white fish, as for most other groups, there was an increase in volumes.

In particular, imports of white fish fillets increased by 21% and amounted to 8 thousand tons. The growth drivers were pangasius fillets (+125.4%) and tilapia fillets (+24.2%).

Hake imports increased by 23%. The volume has been growing steadily over the past 3 years, with the main hake supplier country being Argentina.

Seabass and dorado grew by 16%. At the same time, the share of fresh-frozen sea bass and dorado in the import structure has also significantly increased. This growth is very sustainable and organic, in DEFA’s opinion, and it is associated with changes in the culture of fish consumption.


In late March-early April, the market has completely run out of Atlantic mackerel and at the moment, only the Far Eastern mackerel remains on offer, which is more suitable for processing. DEFA expects the next Atlantic mackerel shipments in commercial volumes from suppliers no earlier than August. Meanwhile Pacific mackerel stocks are very small.

Summer is forthcoming and market players are wondering about the prospects for the salmonids. It is expected that the closure of Russian factories for preventive maintenance and the rapid increase in prices from Chilean suppliers will lead to price fluctuations in the Russian market.

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