The market for seabass and gilthead seabream in Cyprus is considered to be saturated, with the wholesale market leaders dominating the market and utilizing their extensive retail networks to maintain their market share positions. In a ddition, local producers are facing competition from Greek aquaculture farms, which have been able to quickly and easily send fresh products to Cyprus at lower prices since last year. Furthermore , new local aquaculture farms will face significant increases in infrastructure costs, which potential government subsidies may not fully cover. As a result, it is advisable for prospective new aquaculture companies to develop business plans that prioritize exporting production overseas rather than relying on local consumption. To this end, a market research study was conducted to explore the possibility of exporting to neighboring countries such as Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. As fresh fish is favored by the consumers, the swift transportation and low freight costs create an ideal setting for potential new export markets. The market research analysis also explored the possibility of exporting two new species for Cyprus aquaculture, meagre and red porgy.
The primary objective of the study was to determine the market size per country, identify the dominant market leaders and key players, and understand the essential product category features according to consumer preferences such as fish species, size, quality, process level or product configuration, and distinctive characteristics. Additionally, the study outlines the sea transport procedures for importing fish into each country and documents any potential taxes, charges, and fees. Finally, the report presents business strategies for Cyprus aquaculture firms based on a comparative evaluation of the four countries included in the study.
Israel, although a small country in terms of population, has a high per capita gross domestic product and a significant yearly fish consumption rate. These factors position Israel as a potentially attractive market for Cypriot fish farms to export seabass. However, the Israeli market for seabass is relatively small, with an annual consumption of approximately 6,500 tonnes. Additionally, the wholesale price of seabass is attractive for Cypriot fish farms. The wholesale price of seabream does not favor exports.
Egypt, on the other hand, is a significantly larger market for fish products, both as a producer and an importer. However, the country’s large-scale aquaculture projects have led to low wholesale prices for the species under study, making it a challenging market for Cypriot aquaculture farms to penetrate. In addition, Egypt plans to increase its exports and reach self-sufficiency in fish production, potentially becoming a strong competitor for Cypriot exports.
Jordan is a small market with a low but steadily increasing fish consumption rate. Local production is minimal due to the country’s very short coastline, and the low per capita gross domestic product has resulted in moderate wholesale prices for seabream and seabass. While this market may not be ideal for Cypriot fish farms at present, the increasing trend in fish consumption suggests a possible future market, especially if prices continue to rise.
Lebanon, too, is a small market with low yearly fish consumption. Political instability in the country has led to a constant drop in per capita gross domestic product and changing consumption preferences. While the wholesale retail price for seabass is high, demand is low. In contrast, Lebanon can import seabream at extremely low prices from Turkey, making it an unattractive market for Cypriot aquaculture farms .
According to the market research analysis, it has been revealed that neither meagre nor red porgy are feasible for export due to a number of factors.
Table 1 summarizes the major findings for the four markets under study. Red color represents Not Favorable conditions, green color represents Favorable conditions, while light blue represents Moderate conditions.
The Open Sea Aquaculture in the Eastern Mediterranean Project (OS Aqua), co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation (Grant No. INTEGRATED/0918/0046).