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Changing fish trade and demand patterns in developing countries and their significance for policy research


  • Delgado, Christopher L.
  • Courbois, Claude


Trends for major fisheries products are evaluated for the past two decades, using aggregate annual data. Major changes have been propelled by income growth, changes in preferences and health concerns about meat in developed countries, leading to increased consumption of high-valued fisheries items such as shell and filet fish. Developing countries, especially East Asia, are rapidly increasing consumption of lower valued fishery items, and fish-culture is becoming an increasingly important source of food and exports. Developed countries accounted for 85 percent of net world fish imports in 1994, mostly at the high end of the value spectrum, from about twenty countries. In the ten years preceding 1993, the net value of fisheries exports from developing countries went from less than a third of net developing country exports of sugar, beverage crops and tropical specialty products combined, to a level exceeding that total. While real fish prices have remained relatively stable since 1970, real beef prices have declined by 300 percent, suggesting that a rally in meat prices would further accentuate the shift to fish. Current evidence suggests a 15 percent relative strengthening of fish prices to beef through 2020.

Suggested Citation

  • Delgado, Christopher L. & Courbois, Claude, 1997. "Changing fish trade and demand patterns in developing countries and their significance for policy research," MTID discussion papers 18, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:mtiddp:18

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huang, Jikun. & Bouis, Howarth E., 1996. "Structural changes in the demand for food in Asia.:," 2020 vision discussion papers 11, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. X. M. Gao & Thomas Spreen, 1994. "A Microeconometric Analysis of the U.S. Meat Demand," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 42(3), pages 397-412, November.
    3. Alderman, Harold & von Braun, Joachim, 1984. "The effects of the Egyptian food ration and subsidy system on income distribution and consumption:," Research reports 45, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott & Rosegrant, Mark W, 1999. "China's Food Economy to the Twenty-first Century: Supply, Demand, and Trade," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 737-766, July.
    5. Delgado, C.L. & McKenna, A.A., 1997. "Demand for fish in Sub-Saharan Africa: the past and the future," Naga, The WorldFish Center, vol. 20(3/4), pages 79-82;97-10.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rashid, Shahidur & Sharma, Manohar & Zeller, Manfred, 2002. "Micro-lending for small farmers in Bangladesh," MTID discussion papers 45, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Delgado, Christopher L. & Crosson, Pierre & Courbois, Claude, 1997. "The impact of livestock and fisheries on food availability and demand in 2020," MTID discussion papers 19, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item


    Fisheries Economic aspects Developing countries. ; Fish-culture. ; Prices. ; Exports. ;


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Socio-economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture


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