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Venezuela, The Growth Market For Ecuadorian Tuna Sector

Venezuela’s tuna imports from Ecuador saw a significant escalation last year when compared to 2011. With the highest consumption rate of tuna in the South American region, Venezuela is a hugely important customer to the second highest exporting nation globally.

Previously, Ecuadorian exports to the Venezuelan market did not exceed eight or ten million cartons, while today it is where 20 percent of its processed tuna is shipped. This has been a result of an upsurge in Venezuela’s total tuna imports, which grew a huge 70 percent between 2011 and 2012.

Reduced production of the three Venezuelan tuna processing companies: Polar, Avecaisa and Propisca, due to government policies is thought to have sparked this sharp jump in import figures.  Once responsible for 80 percent of the Venezuelan tuna market, diminishing processing has forced the country to import more canned tuna and pre-cooked loins from other nations.

Although there is a decline in Venezuelan tuna catches from 2008-2012, this decrease is too steady to explain the dramatic drop in tuna production within the country. This may indicate that a large proportion of catches could possibly be sold off to other countries or discharged at other locations and therefore not reaching Venezuelan canneries.

According to the Institute for the Promotion of Exports and Investments, now, 60 percent of the demand for canned tuna in Venezuela is covered by Ecuador, and the remainder of products is supplied by Portugal, Panama and China.

In 2010, Venezuelan imports from Ecuador totaled 11 million kilos, which grew to 12.1 million kilos in 2011 at a total value of USD 55.5 million. Last year, however, this value rocketed to over triple that amount at USD 170 million. It is expected that this figure will only increase.

Officials from Venezuela and Ecuador met to set alliances that highlighted the importance in strengthening tuna production and processing in Venezuela for both domestic consumption and exports.