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EU Duty Free Pre-cooked Loins Quota Filling Fast

European canners, mainly in Spain, have nearly filled half their allotted duty-free quota for frozen, pre-cooked tuna loins in less than two months.

As of Feb. 8, the EU had imported about 10,600 tons of the raw tuna material tax-free since the beginning of January, according to the European Commission. In total, European canners are allowed a duty-free quota of 22,000 tons annually.

This new limit was set at the beginning of the 2013, after a year of negotiations and demands from the Spanish canning industry to raise the quota. Previously, it had been fixed at 15,000 tons at 6% tariff.

The quota is mostly used for pre-cooked loins from Thailand, but it also applies to imports from Vietnam, China, Indonesia and the Philippines. Pre-cooked loins from Ecuador and those included in the EU’s GSP+ incentive scheme are already permitted to enter at zero duty.

Spain produces 70% of the EU’s canned tuna, making it the second largest tuna producer in the world behind Thailand. Each year, it produces about 230,000 tons of canned tuna and the majority goes to markets in Italy, France, Portugal, UK and Germany.