Summary of our market study

The global fish and seafood market has seen significant growth, with a projected rise from US$134 billion in 2019 to $155.32 billion by 2023, reflecting a CAGR of 3.65% from 2016-2023. Asia-Pacific dominates sales, with 78% of the market share. However, the UK market is facing a decline. From 2014's 725,000 tons sold, it's expected to fall to 708,800 tons by 2024, experiencing a 0.23% decrease per year due to rising prices and shifts towards vegetarian and vegan diets. Brexit introduces uncertainties in trade, especially considering the UK's heavy dependence on the EU for exports. COVID-19 further impacts the industry, with February 2020 seeing a 22% decrease in exports from the previous month. The UK market is relatively fragmented: in fishing, the top 5 companies hold 27.8% of the market, with restaurants being the primary channel for seafood consumption. Prices for fish and seafood have risen by 35.2%, outpacing inflation. Finally, strict fishing regulations aim to mitigate overfishing. Young's Seafood Ltd stands out as a major British player with sales revenue of £545.9 million.

Trends and Dynamics in the UK Fish and Seafood Market

The UK fish and seafood market presents a fascinating blend of growth, challenges, and transformation shaped by various factors including consumer preferences, market structure, regulations, and external challenges like Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. The global fish and seafood market has been growing steadily, with the Asia-Pacific region leading in consumption. Nevertheless, the UK market is seeing a decline in volumes sold, driven by rising prices and shifts in consumer eating habits toward vegetarian and vegan diets. Despite the downturn, the UK still benefits from rich fishing waters, with seafood being a critical component for the economy. The country's dependence on exports rather than imports, particularly in light of Brexit, raises questions about future trade relations with the EU. In the EU, traditional favorites such as tuna, cod, and salmon dominate consumption. However, the UK has a unique palate, with cod taking the lead as the most consumed fish, followed by salmon, tuna, haddock, and shrimp. This pattern aligns with the UK's cultural gastronomy, including the popularity of fish and chips. The UK’s spending on fish also increases with the consumer’s age, with those aged 65-74 spending between £3 and £4 per week on average.

The seafood sector in the UK is highly fragmented, with many small businesses operating alongside a few larger companies. Top players like Young's Seafood Ltd. only hold a modest proportion of the market, emphasizing the scope for competition and investment in the industry. Despite the diversity of players, the total revenue for the largest British company, Young's Seafood Ltd, is in the ballpark of£500 to £600 million. Due to challenges such as Brexit and COVID-19, the UK fishing and seafood industry is facing uncertainty. The impact of Brexit on fishing rights and economic cooperation with the EU has yet to be fully determined. The UK has a trade surplus with the EU in fish and seafood, making the outcome of negotiations post-Brexit critically important. The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has been immediate, with significant year-on-year declines observed in exports, highlighting the industry's susceptibility to global shocks. Regulations form an integral part of the market structure, ensuring sustainable fishing practices and consumer protection in traceability and transparency. Fishermen and businesses must adhere to strict rules ranging from fishing licenses to seasonal restrictions and catch limits. The UK fish and seafood market, while experiencing downward pressure on volumes, remains a significant part of the food industry. The right blend of policy support, market.

Key Players Dominating the UK Fish and Seafood Market

The UK fish and seafood market, while relatively fragmented, includes several notable companies that hold significant positions in the industry. Among British players, Young's Seafood Ltd stands out as a prominent figure, carving out a sizeable presence and capturing the attention of consumers with their wide range of products and longstanding brand reputation.

  • Young's Seafood Ltd - Established in 1805, Young's Seafood has a strong heritage and has grown to become the UK's leading fish and seafood company. With an extensive product line that includes frozen fish fillets, prepared seafood, and shellfish, Young's Seafood has secured its position by offering quality products that cater to the tastes and preferences of British consumers.
  • The company's commitment to sustainable and responsible sourcing, combined with its dedication to innovation and customer satisfaction, has solidified its status as a staple in the UK seafood market. Outside of Young's Seafood, the market includes other players that contribute to the diversity and competitiveness within the sector. These companies range from local, family-run businesses to larger corporations, each bringing their unique offerings to the table and striving to meet the evolving demands of UK consumers.
  • They operate through various channels, including retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer services, and each player brings their strategic approach to fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing. As the UK fish and seafood market advances, issues such as sustainability and environmental impact continue to influence consumer choices and industry practices.

Companies that adapt to these expectations and remain transparent in their operations stand to gain a competitive edge in a market that is highly sensitive to ecological and ethical concerns. Whether through embracing eco-friendly fishing methods or ensuring traceability and responsible sourcing, the leading market players must navigate an intricate landscape of consumer demands, regulatory pressures, and global trade dynamics.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market Overview

1.1 Definition and introduction

The fish and seafood market covers the consumption and distribution of all fish and seafood products that are found in the ocean and are edible.

The global fish and seafood market is experiencing strong growth due to increasing consumption. This demand is made possible by improved production and distribution channels. Asia dominates the global demand.

In the United Kingdom, the fish and seafood market is contracting due to rising prices, reducing consumer spending. The UK is more dependent on exports than imports and has access to rich waters. Nevertheless, the Brexit raises worrisome questions about the future of trade with the EU. In Section 2.2, we will analyze potential outcomes based on different scenarios.

Finally, the UK fishing sector will be severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

1.2 Fish and seafood around the world

Seafood market turnover World, ****-*****, US$ billion Source: ****

The global fish and seafood market was valued at US$ *** billion in ****. It is expected to increase to $***.** billion by ****, representing a CAGR of *.**% between **** and ****. One reason for this increase is the perceived health benefits around seafood.

Seafood sales by region World, ...

1.3 Focus on: the European Union

Source: ****

The table above shows which fish are most consumed in the EU; we see that tuna represents the largest share (***), the EU is dependent on other global players.

Seafood consumption Europe, ****, in kg/person/year Source: ****

Finally, the table above describes the consumption per capita in the EU. At the ...

1.4 Fish and seafood down in the UK

Seafood Market Size (***) United Kingdom, ****-*****, in thousands of tons Source: ****

The UK fish and seafood market is declining when considering volumes sold. In ****, ***,*** tons were sold; in ****, this value is expected to be ***,***, representing a decrease of *.**% per year.

This decrease in volumes sold is primarily due to rising prices, ...

1.5 Foreign trade

In this section we use UN Comtrade data to analyze the UK's trade relations with the world. For this purpose, the code chosen was:

** - " Fish and crustaceans, mollusks and other aquatic invertebrates"

Foreign trade in seafood products United Kingdom, ****-****, in billion US$ Source: ****

The UK imports more fish ...

2 Analysis of the demand

2.1 Profile Analysis: The British Consumer

Seafish reports that **% of British adults who eat fish once a week or less say cost is what hinders continued consumption. In addition, British consumers eat fish primarily for dietary reasons; **% of those surveyed said fish helps them maintain a balanced diet, while **% of people pointed to health benefits.

The same ...

2.2 The impact of Brexit on the market remains uncertain


In this section, we seek to shed light on the effects that Brexit could have on the UK fishing sector in terms of fishing rights and economic cooperation with the EU

Volumes of seafood products exported to the EU United Kingdom, ****, in thousands of tons Source: ****

First of all, the ...

2.3 Fish and seafood suffer from COVID-19

The fishing industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. [***] In January ****, exports of fish and shellfish, mollusks, and other aquatic invertebrates were down **% from December ****. By February ****, this figure had decreased by another **% compared to January ****. On a larger scale, the period from February **** to February **** showed an *.**% year-on-year decline, ...

3 Market structure

3.1 The seafood supply chain

The first step in the supply chain is fishing or aquaculture. For only a few years, the world has been consuming more farmed fish than caught fish (***). There is sanitary control following the harvesting of the fish. [***]

In the second stage, the fish is processed. The four basic procedures used in ...

3.2 Fishing in the UK

Most caught fish United Kingdom, ****, in thousands of tons and in GBP Source: ****

British waters are rich in fish and seafood. In particular, we can see from the graph above that mackerel is the most caught fish. This confirms the abundance of this fish in British waters (***)

Finally, it is interesting ...

3.3 Fish and seafood are eaten in restaurants

Distribution of seafood products (***) European Union, ****, in % Source: ****

The distribution of fish in the UK is similar to that of the EU, which is why the graph above serves as a credible indicator of UK distribution. Indeed, we can see above that restaurants are by far the most common distribution channel ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Product analysis

The four most consumed fish in the UK are cod, haddock, tuna and salmon. For shellfish, shrimp remains the main dish. These five ocean products account for **-**% of all fish and seafood consumed in the UK. [***]

In general, the seafood market in the UK is divided into three parts: fish, ...

4.2 Fish and seafood prices rise dramatically

seafood Price Index

United Kingdom, ****-****, base *** (***) Source: ****

The chart above shows the evolution of fish and seafood prices in the United Kingdom. The base year is ****, where the index value is ***. The intuition is that if the index value is ***, this implies a price increase of *% (***). Following this logic, we ...

4.3 The British fishing fleet is shrinking

fishing vessel fleet

United Kingdom, ****-****, in units Source: ****

Between **** and ****, the number of fishing vessels in the UK decreased from *,*** to *,***, representing a decrease of *.**% over the decade. One of the reasons for this decrease may be that the sector has suffered from foreign competition and fish farms, resulting in ...

5 Regulation

5.1 Current regulations

Fishing regulations remain extensive and strict. In light of overfishing and the extinction of several species, legislative frameworks are increasingly aimed at mitigating these problems through control and prohibition regulations. The data below is based on the UK Government guidelines.

To begin with, anglers in the UK require a rod and ...

6 Positioning of the actors

6.1 Segmentation

  • Young's Seafood
  • Lyons Seafood
  • Maruha Nichiro
  • Nippon Suisan Kaisha
  • Thai Union Group

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Seafood market turnover
  • Fishing trend of the fish stock
  • Seafood sales by region
  • Seafood consumption
  • Seafood market size (by volume)
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Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Young's Seafood
Lyons Seafood
Maruha Nichiro
Nippon Suisan Kaisha
Thai Union Group

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the fish and seafood market | UK

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