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Import & Export Data On EU Frozen Raw Loins A Big Mystery

The European Union has imported 8.332 M/T of frozen raw tuna loins from countries outside the Union last year. This is the basic product for tuna steaks, served on restaurants or available fresh/frozen at the supermarkets. The volume was 10% lower than 2007, probably due the effects of the economic crisis on food service and consumer’s budget.

The top 3 frozen raw suppliers outside the Union are Sri Lanka (1.979 M/T), Vietnam (1.731 M/T) and Yemen (805 M/T, after a 49% drop from 2007).

The top buyers of the product from those countries are: France – with a fair share from Korea as well (14%); United Kingdom – which also imported from China (9%) and Iceland (20%); Belgium – showing a large amount coming from India (22%) as well; Germany – with 35% from Thailand; Netherlands – also had Indonesia (23%) as major supplier outside EU; and Spain – great amount from Colombia (22%).
Those countries – along with Portugal - are also the top providers of frozen raw loins to other countries of the Union, with EU Intra imports of the good reaching 9.863 M/T of the product in 2008.

When we cross the EU imports data with the exports data to EU countries, unsurprisingly, the same countries appear as top destinations for frozen raw loins. This shows the large movement of the product within Europe and, at times, in inexplicable ways.

As one example, Ireland imported only a small amount 50 M/T of raw loins and managed to export, at that same period, 2.106 M/T of loins within Europe, especially to Germany (916 M/T) and U.K. (406 M/T). However, according to ICCAT’s latest catching data, Ireland’s tuna catches didn’t surpass 600 M/T of whole round tuna in 2007. So where did all the extra tuna come from – why do the statistics not account for them?

Another lose end on data is the fact that the Netherlands, one of the greatest importers of frozen raw loins, imported 3.395 M/T (83% of its total imports) from Belgium, which has no tuna fishing activities and only imports. Belgium reported it only imported 883 M/T from outside the European Union. And also Belgium has declared to have exported in total only 870 M/T to all EU member states combined in 2008. Clearly this data does not make any sense, and therefore it is hard to determine what is really being traded.