Greek Aquaculture: Record sales and investments, tempered by concerns about increased production costs
The highest sales in a decade, but also concerns about the constrained economic environment due to inflationary pressures and price increases, are the main conclusions of this year’s 8th Annual Aquaculture Report issued by the Hellenic Aquaculture Producers Organization (HAPO), summarizing developments in the sector over the past year.
In 2021, the sector achieved record sales, as the gradual lifting of restrictive health measures and the restoration of market operation, mainly in the catering and tourism industries, drove increased demand especially for out-of-home consumption. Greek aquaculture fish sales reached 131,250 tonnes, worth 636 million euros, which represents a 7% increase in volume and a rise of almost 10% in value compared to the previous year. Sea bream and sea bass accounted for 96% of the sector’s production (125,550 tonnes), with other species making up the remaining 4% (5,700 tonnes).
At the same time, the sector’s outward-looking orientation was further strengthened as exports rose by 9% in terms of volume and value, reaching 100,361 tonnes and €499 million respectively. Of the total production, 80% went to the EU and third countries, while the remaining 20% was distributed on the domestic market. Italy, Spain, and France continue to be the main markets for Greek fish farming, with these three absorbing 58% of the country’s aquaculture output.
Despite strong competition from third countries and the continued increase in Turkey’s production, average prices for the two most commercially important species showed improvement (+1.5% sea bream, +6% sea bass), creating positive results for the majority of businesses in the sector.
In addition to actions aimed at increasing production and enhancing competitiveness, investments to promote sustainable aquaculture practices and strengthen the viability of the sector remained at the center of the industry’s activities, with an emphasis on reducing the environmental footprint and protecting the marine ecosystems.
It should be noted that 2021 also saw a number of negative impacts triggered by the pandemic and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Inflationary pressures and price increases of all inputs in the production process, primarily of the raw materials used in fish feed, as well as energy, liquid oxygen, packaging materials and transport, resulted in a 25% increase in production costs.
On the occasion of the publication of the 8th Annual Aquaculture Report, Mr. Giannis Pelekanakis, Director of European Affairs for HAPO, commented: “2021 was undoubtedly a notable year. First of all, the sector’s sales hit a 10-year record high, with consumption returning to pre-crisis levels.
The increased sales of the past year clearly demonstrate the trust that consumers worldwide have in Greek aquaculture. The results of the first half of 2022 indicate that the year will end on a positive note, highlighting the momentum gained by the sector in the post-Covid economy. However, efforts to achieve the sector’s development goals face difficulties due to constant price increases and the higher operating costs of fish farming enterprises. In the present stage, the companies of the sector are in a process of continuous assessment of the impacts that geopolitical developments and resulting price increases have on their operations throughout the production and supply chain. Undoubtedly, the consequences for the industry will depend on both the duration and intensity of the crisis, but in the meantime, aquaculture enterprises are exploring all possible solutions to reduce production costs. Regardless of these and other challenges, the growing demand for Greek aquaculture fish creates positive prospects for the sector and the country’s economy. The goal for all of us is to unlock the potential of our seas by producing more food for an ever-growing population, in a way that respects the environment and benefits local communities, helping them to flourish. A prerequisite for achieving this goal continues to be the implementation of maritime spatial planning and the designation of aquaculture zones.”
Here, you may find the 2022 Annual Report.