Russia's seafood market gearing up to make another big leap: EXPORTS

April 10, 2007 10:32

Russia has been exporting annually around 1.25 million tonnes of seafood during the period from 2000 to 2005. The exported values showed a 27% growth in 2005 on 2004 - from $1.45 billion to $ 1.85 billion. The rise was achieved mainly due to increased exports of frozen fish from 1041000 tons in 2004 to 1190000 tons in 2005 and a boost of fillet sales from 49000 tons in 2004 to 59000 tons in 2005.

Russia's export of seafoodThe exported volumes rose from 1348000 tons in 2004 to 1385000 tons in 2005 displaying a growth of 2.7%.

The total value of seafood exported straight from the EEZ beyond the customs area in this period rose from $971.9 million to $1056.9 million or by 8.7%.

The exporters usually do not co-ordinate their sales policy such practices leading to discrimination by importing countries and too low prices for particular kinds of goods. Thus the average price of 1 tonne of crustaceans diminished from $7246.9 in 2003 to $6385 in 2004 (12% down), dried and dry-cured fish from $1848.4 to $1607.6 (down by 13%) and the mollusks prices drop was from $2452.3 to $2357.4 (3.9%).

The overall efficiency of the foreign trade transactions of Russian producers in 2005 was lower than in 2003. The average export price of 1 tonne of fish products has increased only by 0.7% while the average import price per ton rose by 22.3%.



2005 Fact

2006 Estimate

2007 forecast

2008 forecast

2009 forecast








Fish products export

USD million

1 853

1 703

1 662

1 712

1 817

Thousand tonnes

1 385

1 252

1 175

1 165

1 150

For various reasons, including technological (the fleet growing physically and morally obsolete), economic (profitability of processing and the World Market demand) in 2004-2005 Russia has mostly being supplying the world market with chilled and fresh frozen fish accounting for around  85-90% of the entire exports for human consumption. The share of fillets in exports occupied only 4-5% and the canned production 2.8-3.5%. The average annual growth of the Russian fresh frozen fish exports was 13%. The total exports rose from 818000 tons in 2000 to 1191000 tons in 2005 or by 45%.

Apart from official figures, there is also illegal export traffic with estimates of volumes and values fluctuating very widely. The government has been trying to curb the illegal sales by mounting policing efforts while further considered steps include mandatory clearance of the EEZ catch in Russian harbours as well as greater international cooperation and long-term fishing rights.

The main growth of the exports volumes is observed in the group: «Prepared and canned fish: sturgeon caviar (black caviar) and caviar substitutes produced from eggs of other fishes». The average annual growth was 41% from 16000 tons in 2000 to 46000 tons in 2005.

The Federal Customs Service data on the fish production exports for 2004-2005 years, less the catches made and exported in the EEZ beyond the customs territory

HSC Codes

Indicators name

2004 г.

2005 г.

Thousand tonnes

USD millions

Thousand tonnes

USD millions


Fresh and frozen fish






annual rate of increase/ decrease on the previous year






Frozen fish






annual rate of increase/ decrease on the previous year






Fillets of fish and other fish meat (including mince)






annual rate of increase/ decrease on  the previous year






Dried fish, salted fish or in brine




Shellfish live, fresh, salted




Mollusks live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried, salted




Prepared and canned fish: sturgeon caviar (black caviar)



It should be pointed out that the fishery industry is one of the main hard currency sources. Thus in 2005 the overall export of seafood and industrial fish production amounted to 1373000 tonnes in volume and $1.85 billion in value, while the imported goods in total were 1069000 metric tons and in value exceeded $1 billion.

In the export sales the fresh frozen fish occupies on the average about 80%. The exported canned production and shellfishes was 7% of the total amount and the fish fillets accounted 6%. At the same time about 70% of imports is occupied by "cheap" frozen fishes (herring, blue whiting etc.), being popular in the European Russia, but the imports of canned production (13%) and fish fillets (8%) are also significant.

During 2001-2005 the average prices for 1 tonne exported decreased step by step: from 1.3; 1.29; 1.2 and to 1.1 thousand USD per tonne, while the import prices grew up from 0.4; 0.55. 0.73 to 0.9 thousand USD per tonne. Such lack of balance in prices shows the poor efficiency of the foreign trade activities in the fishery.

In 2006, however, export contract prices for chilled and freshfrozen fish as well as fillets (excluding crustaceans, caviar and prepared products) grew by 8% on 2005 with the bulk of the rise  contributed by freshfrozen fish and fillets.

According to Russia's Ministry of Agriculture, in 2006, for the first time in the last four years, a decline of 8.8% was recorded in the export volumes from 1853 million USD and 1385 000 tonnes in 2005 down to 1703 million USD and 1252 000 tonnes in 2006.

In the situation of surging imports and stagnating exports the industry is urging the government to increase support measures by using tariff and non-tariff methods to protect domestic processors and exporters, though this would be limited by Russia's forthcoming accession to WTO.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation came to an agreement with the WTO concerning the initial and final rates of the customs duties for fish production groups.

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