Korean Seafood Imports in Jan-Feb 2023 Rise in Value on Strong Demand for Tuna Fillets and Crab

Published Mar 23, 2023
Korean import value of seafood rose 4% YoY in the first two months of 2023, with a higher price more than offsetting a slight decline in volume. Russia remained the largest origin, with ongoing strong demand for crab. Meanwhile, imports of tuna fillets soared, driven by an ongoing demand growth for sushi and sashimi, in which tuna is typically used.

In January-February 2023, the value of South Korean imports of HS Code 03 products, which comprise fish, crustaceans, molluscs, and other aquatic invertebrates, totaled USD 922.98 million, which represents an increase of 4% compared to the same period in 2022. In terms of volume, Korea imported 231 thousand mt, which represents a decline of 0.9% year-over-year (YoY). The rise in value can be attributed to an increase in the unitary value of the imports, at USD 4.00/kg, up 5% YoY.

Source: Tridge and Korea Customs

The largest origin, in terms of value, was Russia, with a total of USD 206 million. Russia maintains the top spot among Korea’s seafood imports, as it is the main provider of crabs, both live, fresh or chilled and frozen, and frozen whole Alaska pollock. Its top product, live, fresh or chilled crab, totaled a value of USD 78 million, up 13% YoY, as total imported volume rose by a sharp 46% YoY, more than offsetting the decline in price. The decline in crab price, which in turn was brought about by the trade changes following sanctions imposed by other countries on Russia following the onset of its conflict with Ukraine, has continued to boost Korean demand for this product. This will likely continue through 2023, as Russia continues to redirect its crab to South Korea and other Asian countries, such as Japan and China, as sanctions by the US, which include an import ban for this product implemented in 2022, remain in place.