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Russia to shift more pollock to South Korea

Fishing firms are cautiously optimistic about the growing market.

Russia's Far East Center for Regional Studies (FECRS) predicted the country’s seafood exports to South Korea are poised to climb, the result of the Asian country's fishing restrictions and continued demand for key Russian products such as pollock.

FECRS predicted imports would rise from 1.1 percent this year to 4.1 percent in 2020, reaching 426,500 metric tons in 2020, a level more than 12 percent higher than the imports in 2015.

Fishing quotas for South Korean harvesters in Russian waters fell from 60,000 metric tons to 38,000 metric tons in 2015.

From 2011 to 2015, frozen seafood made up 86.4 percent on average of the overall Russian seafood export value to South Korea, while processed seafood exports' share rose from 9 percent to 15.9 percent, according to FECRS.

Pollock made up the bulk of Russian seafood exports, amounting to $259 million (€ 244 million), or 46.7 percent of the country’s total seafood export value to South Korea in 2015.

Frozen pollock fillet exports accounted for 21.5 percent of the overall value of pollock shipments, with remaining 79.5 percent provided by frozen headed and gutted (H&G) and whole round pollock.

Exports of Russian unfrozen crabs brought in $174 million (€164 million) to exporters, accounting for 31.4 percent share of the country’s total seafood export value.

Cautious optimism 

Russian industry watchers have expressed cautious optimism about the possible increase in the country’s pollock supplies to South Korea.

"We can assume that Russian producers will increase the pollock landings to South Korea if the demand for this species will grow," Alexey Buglak, executive director of the Russian Pollock Catcher Association (PCA) told IntraFish.

"But, it is ultimately up to the fishermen and buyers, whether signing new contracts or not."

Alexander Efremov, CEO of Far Eastern fisheries company Dobroflot, told IntraFish the group doesn't have any plans to build up pollock supplies to South Korea in the nearest future, noting the strong demand domestically.

"Although, if the demand for Russian pollock rises in South Korea, we will undoubtedly consider increasing our shipments to this country," Efremov said.


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