Annette Kenny, Food & Beverage Division, Bord Bia - Irish Food Board
Portugal has an estimated population of 10.43 million and has experienced slight economic growth in recent times along with unemployment levels expected to decrease over the next few years. These economic factors are having a positive effect on consumer confidence which is gradually regaining stability (Bord Bia, Fish & Seafood Market Portugal Report, 2016). With growing consumer confidence, high seafood consumption and a reliance on seafood imports as well as the rise in Portuguese cuisine on a global scale, opportunities exist in the Portuguese Seafood Market.
Seafood Consumption Trends
Currently, Portugal’s average per capita seafood consumption is the highest in Europe at an estimated 56kg annually and has the highest per capita household expenditure of €311, three times the EU average spend and an increase of 49% since 2000 (EU Fish Market report 2016). The main species consumed are sardines, cod, octopus, perch, tuna and swordfish, also horse mackerel, shrimp and sea bream are popular.
In general, fish in chilled format is preferred over frozen, salted/dried, canned and smoked and a higher value is placed on whole fish rather than fish steaks and fillets.
In 2016, Portuguese seafood imports were valued at over €1.7bn with the top three imports coming from Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. Main imports were frozen fish (mainly cod and hake). As fish has been long a staple food of the Portuguese diet along with the depletion of fish stocks and accessibility to fishing waters, imports are significant in order to meet domestic demand.
Ireland’s main exports to Portugal are Crab, Mackerel, Shrimp and Prawns reaching a modest value of €4.3mn (2016) which was an increase of 28% year on year.
Portuguese Seafood Influence
Becoming known as a foodie hotspot, a rise in Portuguese cuisine has become more widely recognised, for example, the Time Out Market opened in 2014 which serves as a hub for restaurants, food stalls, bars, shops and hosted by top chefs. Portugal is famous for its variety of seafood, serving staple dishes like Bacalhau or salted cod which encompasses an ancient preservation method and once rehydrated it is believed that there are 365 variations of Bacalhau.
Portugal is home to a notable amount of Michelin star restaurants and the Portuguese cuisine is having a notable influence on restaurants around the world with a number of restaurants taking advantage of the rising trend of Portuguese cuisine from London to New York (Food watching report, May 2017).
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