High volumes of bream and a shortage of bass

Looking back at 2020 and a bit forward to 2021 

Total volumes of seabass and seabream consumption in 2020 were down 6% compared to 2019, mainly driven by lower supply of seabass. Consumption of seabass decreased in all Mediterranean countries, but was up in all other markets. A different picture was seen for seabream where consumption was up in the whole the Mediterranean and other European markets compared to 2019, resulting in lower prices.

The price trends we started to observe early spring last year are continuing in the beginning of 2021. Export prices of fresh whole seabass continue to rise whereas seabream prices continue to decrease even further. Prices in the wholesale segment seem to have decreased slightly the last two months, possibly caused by the second lockdown.

Consumer markets:

In Italy, overall import of fresh bass and bream is down in 2020 compared to 2019, despite that the import of both bass and bream from Croatia increased significantly.

In Spain, import of both bass and bream increased compared to 2019. This is a consequence of lower domestic production due to the damage inflicted on the industry by the storm Gloria that hit the Spanish coast about one year ago.

In France, imports last year went down for both species from all producer countries exporting. It is also interesting to note that at the Rungis market, the premium of about 2€/kg paid for ”domestically farmed bass” in 2019 disappeared, with both imported and domestic bass traded at the same high price levels. The premium of about 1€/kg for ”domestically farmed bream” was maintained although bream is currently trading at lower price levels than bass.

Production markets:

On the production side in Greece, more bream and less bass was harvested last year.  In Turkey, bream harvest was at similar levels compared to 2019, but bass production dropped by around 10%.  In Spain, both harvest of bass and bream took a hit in 2020, as a direct effect of the storm Gloria. Feed sales in the last months of 2020 are record high in Greece and Italy, above 2018 levels in Turkey and on the way to recovery in Spain. This gives an indication of what is to come in 2021!

Overall, we can conclude that 2020 was another record year for bream production but not quite so for bass. Prices have remained relative stable and high despite challenging market conditions, especially compared to other sectors in the seafood industry. It remains to be seen how juvenile stocking patterns will translate into harvest volumes for bass versus bream in 2021. 

If you want to know more about the bass and bream market, check out our Monthly Seabass and Seabream report. 


Image: Shutterstock, Kirill Zakabluk