Frozen Octopus Shortage Sparks Price Surge, Morocco Responds with Quota Increase

frozen octopus

The Octopus Dilemma: Frozen Shortage and Rising Prices

The seafood industry is facing a significant challenge as the scarcity of large-sized frozen octopuses intensifies, particularly in major markets such as Spain, Portugal, and the United States. This shortage has driven the prices of Moroccan octopuses up by a substantial 1 euro (1.08 US dollars) per kilogram. To counteract this trend, Morocco has announced an increase in its octopus quota, raising hopes for a potential easing of the market strain.

The State of the Market: Quota Expenditure and Diminishing Returns

Initial optimism quickly faded as the fishing season, which began on January 1st, saw a swift depletion of approximately 70% of the quota within the first three weeks. This rapid pace of catch was soon followed by a decline in fishing volume, largely attributed to adverse weather conditions. The situation was further compounded by the scarcity of octopuses, leading to a situation where the supply could not meet the enduring demand.

frozen octopus

The Price Hike: A Market in Turmoil

Industry experts have noted a stark contrast in the availability of octopuses. While octopuses are present in the market, the highly sought-after large-sized octopuses are in short supply. This scarcity has sent prices soaring, with larger T1 and T2 octopuses reaching 13 euros/kg, T3 at 12.5 euros/kg, and the prices decreasing incrementally through T8 at 8.00 euros/kg. The market’s demand is so fierce that processors could potentially command prices as high as 14 or 15 euros per kilogram, but the lack of large octopuses makes such transactions a fruitless endeavor.

Octopus fishing

A Global Perspective: Mauritania’s Market Dynamics

In Mauritania, the octopus market presents a similar pattern of price increases. The T1 and T2 sizes range from 13.00 euros/kg to 13.90 euros/kg, with T3 octopuses fetching prices between 12.50 euros/kg and 13.40 euros/kg. The prices gradually decrease for the smaller sizes, with T8 octopuses priced between 7.50 euros/kg and 8.20 euros/kg. This pricing structure mirrors the global trend of higher prices for larger octopuses, highlighting the premium placed on size in the seafood market.

Morocco’s Response: Boosting Quotas and Supporting the Industry

In response to the challenging market conditions and to support the industry, Morocco has issued a ministerial decree raising the octopus quota by 4200 tons to a total of 25200 tons. This proactive measure reflects Morocco’s commitment to sustaining the fishing sector, especially as some vessels have already exhausted their quotas and have been unable to fish for alternative species like squid and cuttlefish. The quota increase is expected to lead to a slight uptick in catches during March, potentially bringing some relief to the market’s supply woes.

As the global seafood market continues to navigate the complexities of supply and demand, the shortage of frozen octopuses has highlighted the need for strategic management and proactive responses from key players. Morocco’s decision to increase quotas is a step towards maintaining balance in the market, ensuring that the industry can sustainably meet the high consumer demand for these prized seafood delicacies.

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