Japanese Scallops Dominate the US Market as the Leading Seafood Supplier

Japanese scallop

Surge in Japanese Scallop Exports to the United States

In a significant shift within the seafood industry, Japanese scallop exports to the United States have seen a dramatic increase, with import volumes nearly doubling in the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. This surge has solidified Japan’s position as the top seafood supplier to the US, particularly in the scallop sector, highlighting a notable change in market dynamics.

Data Highlights: Import Volumes and Values

According to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US imported 3,006 tons of scallops from Japan from January to April 2024, nearly double the 1,782 tons imported during the same period in 2023. Japanese scallops now account for 35% of total US scallop imports, making Japan the largest supplier.

In terms of value, Japanese scallop imports reached $50.8 million, a 28% increase from the $39.6 million recorded in the first four months of 2023. Despite the increased volume, the average price per kilogram dropped by 24%, from $22.21 in 2023 to $16.91 in 2024.

Similarly, Canadian scallop imports to the US also grew, with volumes increasing by 51% to 2,379 tons and values rising by 54% to $67.4 million. In April 2024 alone, the US imported 995 tons of scallops from Japan, worth $15.5 million—an increase of 280% in volume and 19% in value compared to April 2023. However, the price per kilogram decreased by 21%, from $19 in 2023 to $15.52 in 2024.

Price Trends and Market Impact

The price trends reveal a complex interplay of supply and demand. While the volume of Japanese scallop imports has surged, the average price has declined, indicating robust competition and a potentially oversupplied market. This price drop, however, has made Japanese scallops more competitive in the US market, boosting their appeal despite the overall increase in import volumes.

Factors Driving the Surge in Japanese Scallop Imports

Several factors have contributed to this substantial increase in Japanese scallop imports:

  • Decline in US Atlantic Scallop Harvests: The US commercial fleet’s catch of Atlantic scallops dropped significantly in the early months of the 2024-2025 fishing season. The fleet caught approximately 5 million pounds of scallops, compared to 8.1 million pounds during the same period in the previous season. This shortfall has driven US buyers to seek alternative sources, with Japan emerging as a key supplier.
  • China’s Ban on Japanese Seafood: China’s ban on Japanese seafood imports, prompted by concerns over the discharge of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, has forced Japan to find new markets for its scallops. The US, with its high demand for seafood, has become a primary target for Japanese exporters.

Production Insights from Japan

Japan’s scallop production, particularly from the Sea of Okhotsk, has remained strong, with forecasts predicting over 300,000 tons for the sixth consecutive year. The Sea of Okhotsk, along with Windward Bay, serves as a major scallop supply area in Hokkaido, ensuring a steady flow of high-quality scallops for export.

Future Outlook for Japanese Scallop Exports

Given the current market dynamics, Japanese scallop exports to the US are expected to continue growing. The combination of high production volumes in Japan and ongoing supply constraints in the US Atlantic scallop fishery suggests that the US will remain a key market for Japanese scallops. This trend is likely to impact the US seafood supply chain, potentially leading to adjustments in market prices and availability.


The doubling of Japanese scallop exports to the US underscores the significant impact of shifting international market dynamics on the seafood supply chain. As Japan capitalizes on opportunities presented by China’s import ban and US supply constraints, it has solidified its position as the leading scallop supplier to the US. Moving forward, the industry must navigate these changes, balancing supply and demand to maintain sustainability and profitability in the global seafood market.

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