Latin America: The fast-growing seafood market offers promising perspectives. How to benefit from emerging opportunities?
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Latin America: The fast-growing seafood market offers promising perspectives. How to benefit from emerging opportunities?

South Americans don’t eat as much seafood as a lot of countries in for example Europe or Asia. Despite most people in South America living close to the ocean.

The largest consumers of seafood per capita on this continent are Guyana and Peru, where people consume an average of 25 kilograms of seafood each year. Next comes Suriname with 17 kilograms.

Not surprisingly, the lowest seafood consumption can be found in South America’s two landlocked countries: Bolivia with 3 kilograms and Paraguay having 4 kilograms per capita.

Latin America: The fast-growing seafood market offers promising perspectives. How to benefit from emerging opportunities?

Seafood market poised for rapid growth

Currently, Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the lowest average per capita consumption of 9.8 kilograms.

However, according to a new report fr om the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Latin America is predicted to see a considerable increase in consumption of fish and seafood in the coming years.

The lack of time, caused by busy lifestyles, sees Latin Americans reaching for convenient, quick meals, with processed seafood offering the perfect solution.  

Moreover, as they are becoming more aware of fish and seafood being the healthy alternatives to meat and rich in “good” fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, demand for seafood only continues to grow.

According to the FAO, in per capita terms, global fish consumption is projected to reach 21.5 kilograms by 2030, compared to 20.5 kilograms in 2018-2020.

However, it is Latin America, wh ere the highest growth rates of 18 percent are predicted, followed by Asia and Oceania with 8 percent each.

Per capita seafood consumption in Latin America and the Caribbean, currently amounting to around 10 kilograms, could rise to 15 kilograms by 2030, FAO predicted.

The growth of seafood consumption has its own specifics in each Latin American country. For example, in Brazil, according to the latest survey conducted by the Brazilian Association of Fish Farming, the rise in fish consumption has been backed by the increase in the country’s farmed fish production from 578,800 metric tons in 2014 to 860,350 tons in 2022.

The same goes for fish species and seafood consumed. The most popular fish in Brazil include tilapia, salmon, sardines, tuna and other white fillets such as hake, haddock, pangasius and pollock, while Peruvians prefer shrimp, mussels, clams, sea bass, tilapia, tuna and some other species, caught along the Peruvian coast.

Dependence on imports

The growing demand for fish and seafood in the Latin American market will increasingly be satisfied by imports, which are expected to climb around 35 percent by 2030, compared with a projected 21 percent global increase in fish imports, FAO said.

Currently, the dominant species imported and sold in the countries of Latin America are pollock, haddock, Pacific and Atlantic cod, mackerel, herring, as well as various types of crab.

Fish import volumes vary by country and species, but whitefish supplies are considered promising, showing upward and downward trends.

For example, total pollock supplies to the main seafood importers of Latin America, including Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, dropped 78.5 percent from 16,486 metric tons in 2018 to 3,545 metric tons in 2024.

However, total cod imports during the same period and to the same countries jumped 78.6 percent from 5,172 metric tons to 24,168 metric tons.  

Many seafood experts primarily associate the diametrically opposed development trends of the whitefish market in Latin America with Covid restrictions and are confident in the inevitable recovery and growth of this market in the coming years.

Likewise, many are predicting the inevitable impact of the ongoing sanctions war on the markets of whitefish in Latin America, leading to the creation of new supply chains.

Moving from fishmeal to fish product diversity

Historically, Latin America contributed more than 15 percent of global fish production, and much of this came from fishmeal produced by the massive harvest of small pelagic fish off Peru and Chile.

However, in recent decades, some Latin American countries are trying to diversify their fish production, shifting its focus towards fish production for human consumption rather than fishmeal. 

According to the FAO, Latin American countries are expected to increase fish production by 32.8 percent by 2030, with a significant share destined for human consumption. 

In particular, major increases are projected in Brazil, Peru, Chile and Mexico, driven by consumer preferences.

For example, in Brazil, the demand for chilled seafood is growing due to increasing demand for convenience food items and shifting preferences of consumers. 


Fishery industry of Latin America, including aquaculture, which plays a very important role for the economies of several countries in the region and therefore deserves special coverage, is constantly growing, making the continent’s seafood market attractive to enter.

Realizing promising opportunities requires a detailed analysis of current Latin American seafood market trends, market drivers, as well as face-to-face meetings of stakeholders.

SEAFOOD EXPO EURASIA in Istanbul is of great importance as it offers an opportunity to bring together key players in the Latin American seafood market and stakeholders from around the world and help them work more closely to establish new business contacts and to further boost business.

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