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Sector Trend Analysis – Fish and seafood trends in the Netherlands

June 2019

Executive summary

According to the Market Assessment of Opportunities and Challenges in the EU report, fish and seafood in the Netherlands has been identified as one of the most promising market opportunities in the European Union (EU) for Canadian fish and seafood exporters. Based on a rigorous analysis of the market size, growth, and tariff reductions of the European Union (EU) imports, for many products in that food category, the Netherlands represent an ideal opportunity.

The Netherlands is the eleventh largest fish and seafood importer in the world and the seventh largest in the EU28. The Dutch fish and seafood import market was valued at Can$5.6 billion in 2018, an increase of 68.3% over the past 5 years. The Netherland's import suppliers are quite diversified, with fish and seafood products imported from 130 different countries. The Netherlands' top suppliers in 2018 were Iceland (12.9%), Germany (9.9%), Norway (6.7%) and Belgium (6.2%).

In 2018, the Netherlands' primary fish and seafood imports included frozen shrimp and prawns (Can$529 million), canned tuna (Can$356 million), frozen millet cod (Can$319 million), frozen cod (Can$255 million), and processed shrimp (Can$249 million).

Imports from Canada were valued at Can$53 million and Canada was the twelfth largest non-EU supplier of fish and seafood in 2018. Top seafood products imported from Canada were fish oils (Can$15.1 million), frozen lobster (Can$11.0 million), processed shrimps (Can$7.2 million), and live lobster (Can$2.5 million). Frozen flat fish and frozen scallops showed market increases in supply with respectively (Can$1.7 million) and (Can$1.6 million) in imports from Canada.

Canadian performance

Canada was the twelfth largest non-EU supplier of fish and seafood to the Netherlands in 2018, with sales of Can$53 million. This represents an increase of 46.7% from 2017 resulting from an increase in imports of frozen lobster, fish oil, and processed shrimps, all of which have grown substantially since 2017. Local competition from northern European suppliers continue to affect Canadian supply, but the implementation of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is expected to help fill key EU opportunities including frozen cold water shrimp, frozen scallops and frozen cod. Most tariffs will be phased out gradually within 3, 5, or 7 years. See the chapter-by-chapter guide to the key provisions of the Agreement.

The Netherlands was Canada's fourteenth largest export market for fish and seafood, exporting approximately 0.6% of total fish and seafood exported to the Netherlands in 2018. Overall, fish and seafood was Canada's fifth largest export to the Netherlands after oilseeds, processed food, fruits, and vegetables. The sector represented 0.7% of all Canadian merchandise exports to the Netherlands in 2018.

Consumption trends

Per capita consumption of fish and seafood in the Netherlands is expected to increase from 4.8 kilograms (kg) in 2017 to 5.2kg by 2022. It is lower than global and regional (EU) levels of 5.4kg and 10.7kg, respectively, in 2017. Per capita expenditure in the Netherlands was US$63.3 in 2017, which is higher than the global level (US$35.7), but lower than the regional level (US$116.5).

Top ten consumed species in the Netherlands over the past decade have been canned tuna, frozen polack, frozen fish sticks, frozen salmon, salted herring, prepared herring in jars, smoked salmon, frozen pangasius, frozen cod and fresh salmon. Fish and seafood producers and retailers are seeking to meet demand for products with sustainability labels as Dutch consumers are sensitive to ecological and sustainability issues and willing to spend more on products of certified origin.

Dutch fish and seafood consumption is higher among males than females. Furthermore, older consumers (55+ years) accounted for the highest consumption of fish and seafood with 38.5% volume share in 2016.

By the numbers

Top ten Dutch fish and seafood imports from the world in 2018
Rank Top Imports Import Value (Can$)
1 Frozen shrimps and prawns 529,129,165
2 Prepared skipjack/stripe-bellied bonito tuna fillets 356,021,266
3 Frozen millet cod 319,766,217
4 Frozen cod (addus morhua) 255,051,463
5 Processed shrimp, not in air tight containers 248,858,601
6 Fresh atlantic/danube salmon 189,956,764
7 Cod (gadus morhua) 162,957,831
8 Processed shrimps and prawns in airtight containers 158,618,405
9 Fresh fish fillets 125,203,283
10 Fresh cod fillets 117,025,108
Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

Top ten fish and seafood suppliers to the Netherlands in 2018

The figures listed below are in Canadian dollars. (Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019).

  1. Imports from Iceland
    • Salted cod in brine: $139.41 million
    • Fresh cod fillets: $109.9 million
    • Frozen millet cod: $104.4 million
    • Dried fish fillets: $94.9 million
    • Frozen coalfish fillets: $25.9 million
  2. Imports from Germany
    • Cold water shrimp, fresh or prepared: $60.3 million
    • Fresh mussels: $41.5 million
    • Frozen herrings: $37.2 million
    • Smoked pacific salmon: $30.4 million
    • Processed fish: $26.9 million
  3. Imports from Norway
    • Frozen cod (addus morhua): $107.5 million
    • Fresh Atlantic salmon: $60.7 million
    • Dried cod (gadus orhua): $32.0 million
    • Frozen millet cod: $31.4 million
    • Frozen haddock: $30.7 million
  4. Imports from Belgium
    • Frozen shrimp and prawns: $38.5 million
    • Fresh flatfish fillets: $28.9 million
    • Fresh Pacific salmon: $26.2 million
    • Prepared fish: $24.7 million
    • Fresh plaice: $24.6 million
  5. Imports from Vietnam  
    • Frozen shrimp and prawns: $117.5 million
    • Processed shrimp, not in air tight containers: $87.1 million
    • Frozen fillets of catfish: $59.5 million
    • Frozen fillets of tuna: $22.1 million
    • Prepared/preserved shrimp and prawns: $21.1 million
  6. Imports from Russia
    • Frozen cod (addus morhua): $131.7 million
    • Frozen millet cod: $122.4 million
    • Frozen fillets of hadhock: $36.9 million
    • Frozen fish fillets: $8.3 million
    • Frozen crab: $6.5 million
  7. Imports from Denmark
    • Fresh flatfish: $51.2 million
    • Fresh cod (gadus morhua): $28.0 million
    • Fresh mussels: $20.8 million
    • Fresh plaice: $14.1 million
    • Fresh atlantic salmon: $13.2 million
  8. Imports from the Morocco
    • Processed shrimp, in air tight containers: $126.9 million
    • Processed shrimp, not in air tight containers: $76.6 million
    • Processed sardines: $30.1 million
    • Frozen shrimp and prawns:: $2.0 million
    • Frozen octopus: $1.4 million
  9. Imports from China
    • Frozen fillets of Pacific salmon: $40.9 million
    • Frozen fillets of flatfish: $36 million
    • Processed crustaceans: $35.8 million
    • Frozen fillets of Alaskan Pollack: $20.1 million
    • Frozen cod (addus morhua): $19.4 million
  10. Imports from Turkey
    • Chilled fish fillets: $81.0 million
    • Fresh seabass: $36.9 million
    • Fresh sea bream: $28.8 million
    • Frozen fish fillets: $12.4 million
    • Frozen trout fillets: $5.9 million

Fish and seafood product analysis


Frozen shrimp imports are the largest fish and seafood imports to the Netherlands, representing 9.4% of total fish and seafood products imports valued at Can$529 million in 2018, which is an annual increase of 4.4% over the past five year period. The Netherlands ranks second behind Spain in frozen shrimp imports to the EU. Top non-EU suppliers of frozen shrimp to the Netherlands are India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Imports from Canada are negligible; however, with the implementation of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), tariffs on Canadian frozen shrimp were eliminated in 2017.


Tuna imports (skipjack and stripe-bellied bonito tuna fillets) to the Netherlands represented 6.3% of all fish and seafood products imports with Can$356 million in 2018, which is an annual increase of 7.0% over the past 5 years. Dutch tuna imports are third largest in the EU behind Spain and Italy. The largest non-EU import sources are Ecuador and Mauritius. Canada is not currently a large player in this market, however, with the implementation of the CETA, tariffs on prepared or preserved tunas or skipjack (24%) will be phased out by 2024.


Frozen millet cod imports were Can$319.8 million in 2018, an annual increase of 2.7% over the past five year period. Dutch imports are the second largest in the EU after Germany and sixth largest in the world. Canada was the eleventh largest supplier to the Netherlands and 3rd largest non-EU supplier in 2018, behind Russia and China. With the implementation of the CETA, key frozen cod tariffs of 7.5% will be phased out by 2024 (duty-free access under tariff rate quota (TRQ) during elimination period).


Atlantic salmon imports were Can$189.9 million in 2018, which is an annual increase of 15.4% over the past five year period. Dutch salmon imports ranks fifth among salmon imports to EU countries. EU countries dominate as suppliers of salmon to the Netherlands with imports from Canada and non-EU countries being negligible. With the implementation of the CETA, tariffs on Canadian salmon have been phased out.

Market sizes

Shelf stable seafood is the largest and fastest growing category with sales of US$136.3 million in 2018, which is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.0% during 2019-2023, followed by chilled processed seafood (3.0%) and frozen processed seafood (2.4%).

Historic/Forecast sales of processed seafood by category: US$ million
Category 2014 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018 2019 2023 CAGR* % 2019-2023
Processed seafood 296.5 329.2 2.6 339.0 379.3 2.8
Shelf stable seafood 116.3 136.3 4.0 141.2 158.9 3.0
Chilled processed seafood 105.9 114.2 1.9 117.5 132.2 3.0
Frozen processed seafood 74.3 78.6 1.4 80.2 88.1 2.4

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

Iglo, Princes, AH, John West, and Jumbo are the top five brands in the Dutch fish and seafood sector. While Iglo accounted for a value share of 15.9% in 2018, princes and AH held value shares of 13.3% and 12.7% respectively. John West and Jumbo accounted for 10.6% and 7.0% shares, in the same year.

Historic brand shares of processed seafood: % share
Brand Name (global brand owner) 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Iglo (Nomad Foods Ltd) 17.0 16.7 16.3 15.9
Princes (Mitsubishi Corp) 12.2 13.1 13.6 13.2 13.3
AH (Private Label) 12.8 12.7 12.5 12.7 12.7
John West (Thai Union Frozen Products PCL) 10.8 10.8 10.5 10.6 10.6
Jumbo (Private Label) 6.3 6.6 6.6 7.0 7.0
Ouwehand (Ouwehand Rederij en Visverwerking BV) 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.9
Rio Mare (Bolton Group, The) 4.2 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.7
Plus (Private Label) 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.5
Deep Blue (Mitsui & Co Ltd) 3.8 3.5 3.2 3.3 3.3
Lidl (Private Label) 2.6 2.8 2.8 2.9 3.0
Others 37.8 19.9 20.3 20.1 20.1
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

Seafood production

Seafood arrives in the Netherlands either via Dutch fisheries or for import into the EU via the Netherlands. Both arrive at the key landing ports where they go into auction. The Netherlands has eleven auctions located around the Ijsselmeer where fresh water fish are traded. Each auction has a hall, known locally as the 'mijnzaal', where the auction takes place.

Dutch fish auctions are equipped with modern equipment and meet all requirements with regard to temperature control, hygiene and efficient fish handling. Dutch food safety authorities also inspect for the EU at border inspection posts. Europe's largest number of veterinary consignments is found in the Netherlands, where knowledge about species and health certificates/procedures is high. Dutch importers, processors and logistical service providers also operate across the EU.

Processed fish

Fish is often filleted, breaded, preserved or processed before it is offered to the consumer. The Netherlands has approximately 400 companies involved in such processing and further trading. Large processors have special contracts with ship-owners.

The processing of flat fish, crustaceans and shellfish accounts for the major part of the work. Most companies are located in Urk or IJmuiden. Processing herring and other pelagic species account for 15% of the processing industry. Most of the companies involved in this industry are located in Katwijk, Scheveningen and Vlaardingen (Dutch east coast).

Fjord Seafood is a leading, integrated, global supplier of value added seafood. The company focuses on customers' needs, quality, innovation and environmental responsibility. Fjord Seafood Pieters Belgium prepares products for the Dutch retail and the foodservice markets (for example, fresh portion packages, ready-to-eat food and smoked salmon). Fjord Seafood Sterk in the Netherlands is the company's specialist in coated products.

Distribution channels

Hypermarkets and supermarkets is the leading distribution channel in the Dutch fish and seafood sector. It accounted for a value share of 55.9% in 2017, followed by food & drinks specialists and convenience stores

with shares of 25.5% and 15.3%, respectively. Some of the major retail chains which handle fish and seafood in the Netherlands include Albert Heijn, Superunie, Schuitema, Aldi and Super de Boer.

The foodservice channel is dominated by Sodexho, which controls most of the institutional channels under foodservice complemented by Compas Group which focuses on hospital food and work office meals. Schmidt Zeevis, which belongs to the Kennemervis Group, along with Fix Fisch supply a large proportion of seafood products to restaurants, caterers and hotels.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found on the International agri-food market intelligence page, arranged by region.

For additional information on Seafood Expo Global, please contact:

Ben Berry, Deputy Director
Trade Show Strategy and Delivery
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Sector Trend Analysis – Fish and seafood trends in the Netherlands
Global Analysis Report

Prepared by: Kris Clipsham, International Market Analyst, Global Analysis

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