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Venezuelan Demand Boosts Portuguese Exports Portugal, October 29, 13

A dramatic increase in the demand for imported canned tuna from the Venezuelan market has seen Portugal’s exports to the socialist South American country rocket. Canned tuna exports from Portugal to Venezuela boomed from 2011 to 2012.

Last year saw volumes of 120,529 cartons (48x185g) of canned tuna shipped to Venezuela, whereas the country that lies on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean, imported only a modest 2,399 cartons from Portugal in 2011.

Exports of canned tuna to Angola, former Portuguese colony also saw a significant upsurge, with growth from 79,302 cartons to 138.874 cartons from 2011 to 2012. Angola has a rapidly growing economy and demand for foreign imports has considerably increased. Early this year, Angolan investors were involved in talks to buy the Portuguese tuna canning company, Cofaco, behind the brand Bom Petisco.

Total exports of canned tuna from Portugal have also boomed in the past two years. From 2010 to 2011, the European country’s exports of canned tuna jumped a huge 56 percent from 478,119 cartons (48x185g) to 749,054 cartons. This rose again from 2011 to 2012 to 862,545 cartons, an increase of 15 percent year on year.

The majority of Portugal’s exports are shipped to neighboring country, Spain, which has Europe’s highest per capita consumption of canned tuna. However, in 2012, Spain’s canned tuna imports from Portugal had its leading gap narrowed, and was closely followed by Angola.

Portugal’s rising exports of canned tuna products has been accompanied by an increasing demand for pre-cooked tuna loins. From 2010 to 2011, Portugal’s imports of this product increased from 1,917 tons to 2,408 tons, a 25 percent rise, followed by a further 13 percent growth in 2012.

With rising canned tuna exports, Portugal is strengthening its power in the European processing and exporting market that is currently dominated by Spain. Early this year, reports indicated that Portuguese canners had found common ground with Spanish processors on campaigning for the exclusion of canned tuna from a free trade agreement between Thailand and the EU.

The Spanish tuna industry has repeatedly objected the inclusion of canned tuna in the deal, stating that an unfair competitive advantage would be granted to Thailand, the world’s largest canned tuna and exporting nation across the globe. In May, leading organizations in the tuna sector of both countries signed a joint statement to defend the European market against threat of fierce competition from Asia.

Thailand exports very minimal amounts of canned tuna to Portugal. The main competition that the Portuguese tuna canners experience in their domestic market is coming from exports from its neighbors, the Spanish tuna processors, located in the region of Galicia.