Shark Meat, Market Numbers and Flow

Estimates based on FAO statistics of global trade flows of shark products (not including fins), 2008–2011.

Estimates based on FAO statistics of global trade flows of shark products (not including fins), 2008–2011.

The global trade of shark meat has been expanding steadily over the last decade or more. According to the latest FAO figures from 2011, 121,641 tons of shark meat was imported to the United States. This demand amounted to $379.8 million. Compared to the numbers from 2000, that’s a 42% increase.

Why is the market consistently growing? There are a couple of explanations but the strongest seems to be because of the global demand for seafood. Shark was once considered a low-grade, cheaper fish. Today, however, we are treading a very thin line of over fishing once bountiful fisheries. Catching shark has quickly become an “acceptable” alternative. (also read the previous article about why the demand of fins has caused shark meat sales to rise).

Where are the markets for shark meat the highest? The short answer is South America and Europe. But more specifically, Brazil, Uruguay, the UK, Italy and Spain hold the top market places for shark meat imports. Brazil being the most rapidly growing market – sitting at 11th for producer and 1st for importer. Before Brazil took the number one spot, the European Union was responsible for 56% of imports (40,000 tons) and 32% of exports (2005). Within the European Union, Italy takes the lead with 30% of imports. The United States exports shark meat to mostly France, Germany and Canada.

Laurel Irvine