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Japan's Cephalopod Imports Are Declining Year by Year, Mainly Due to Weak Currency and Rising Prices

In the context of the continued depreciation of the yen and changes in the consumption situation of aquatic products in Japan, Maruha Nichiro, the world's largest aquatic product company, has continuously reduced its global purchases of cephalopod aquatic products.

The company said the weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar was a key factor behind the decline in demand for cephalopod seafood in Japan. Last month, the yen fell to its weakest level against the dollar since 1998, the last time the yen was at a low during the Asian financial crisis.

Tetsuya Horie, deputy general manager of Maruha Nichiro's cephalopod division, said Japan's cephalopod imports fell sharply between 2016 and 2021 due to a weaker currency. For squid and other aquatic products, the purchase volume has dropped from 30,000 tons a few years ago to 5,000 tons, an annual decrease of more than 50%.

Juan Carlos Yuste Ramirez, general manager of Maruha Nichiro, said that although the import volume of cephalopods has dropped significantly, the revenue of the group company has increased year by year. This year, the total revenue is expected to be 7 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 12%.

Yuste noted that the Japanese market is more sensitive to price movements than the European market. Because prices have risen in recent years, companies have had to reduce purchases of cephalopods, and consumption in the Japanese market has also declined. In Japan, about 65% of octopus is sold in supermarkets, and the shelf life is only 4 days.

To maintain some price competitiveness, Maruha Nichiro focuses on sourcing smaller sized octopuses. In addition, the company has purchased a large amount of inventory from several European suppliers this year, but due to rising energy prices, the cost of refrigerated inventory has also increased.

Yuste said that the price of octopus in Morocco has dropped this year, from 11 euros per kilogram to around 9 euros, "but for ordinary consumers, octopus is still a luxury, and the price is still much higher than a few years ago, when Only 6 euros."

Yuste also noted that in Japan, many cephalopod processing plants are facing closure, with some focusing on other cheaper species, such as squid. "For now, the Maruha cephalopod factory is teetering on the edge of breaking even."


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