Much of the following information is extracted from oral sources at the Boston Seafood Show 2013.
Retail price is around USD 6 per kg of fresh shell.
Return to producers/exporters is in the range of 2.9 to 3.3 USD per kg of fresh shell.
In restaurants, blue mussels are usually sold per kilogram for ca. 20-25 USD each course. Restaurants rely on fresh produce and very rarely use frozen products. The selling point used by many blue mussel producers is to highlight how much people get on their plate for a low price. There have been cases where the margin of each plate sold is from 6 up to 10 USD.
Frozen blue mussels (flesh only) have a return value of about 2-4 USD per kilogram. The lowest rate is paid for less desirable types of mussel and the highest for blue mussels. Prices vary a lot and are often based on the overall sale amount. It is known that specifically Chilean farmers, when they harvested more than they were able to sell, put a large amount of frozen mussels onto the European and US markets.
Camanchaca obtained information stating that in Europe a value of ca. 2 to 2.5 USD per kilo of frozen mussel would be achievable when sold in large procurement cycles. Much of that produce would go to the Netherlands and France (possibly via the Netherlands), which would then continue to sell the produce further. Some produce, however, can be sold to southern Europe directly, especially to Spain. Camanchaca himself considered a selling price of blue mussel meat at ca. 2.6 â€“3.1 USD per kg as possible.
The European market is rather tough in general and particularly the Dutch businesses will try to match the considered price level to remain in control of the market.
Marine Stewardship Council-certified blue mussels are delivering slightly higher return rates, by about 2-3%, but there are not a lot of them on the market. Generally, blue mussels already have a relatively sustainable image anyway. Expert estimates on what niche â€˜greenâ€™ marketing could return provide estimates of about 5%. One expert from Ocean Rich Distribution, however, expects even higher return rates if well managed.
Today nearly all businesses, for example in Chile, are using the pure ocean, the clean environment, etc. as a selling point. Chileâ€™s industry experienced a certain reputation loss when their salmon farming industry collapsed, but is gaining ground again. The Norwegians showed similar efforts, but failed despite considerable support from the authorities.
Markets Worth Considering
|France||A large producer, but also a major importer of both fresh and frozen blue mussel.
Traditional consumer of blue mussel.
|Many||Fierce competition from Chile|
|Belgium||No domestic production. Traditional consumer of blue mussel.||High consumption, high value.||Strong Dutch presence in the market place.|
|USA||Majority of consumption takes place through restaurants. Traditional consumer of blue mussel.||Good price||Difficult market access for small producers. Tradition of fresh blue mussels. Market access and transport from Iceland could be tricky.|
Fresh or Frozen?
Historically, the blue mussel market was always based on fresh shells. They achieved the highest prices and therefore were most attractive. In recent years, however, frozen blue mussels stepped up their market presence. Now it is more than simply a way for producers to â€˜dumpâ€™ large quantities of frozen produce on the market when the fresh market is does not live up to supply.
That said, the market for frozen blue mussels is still less than that of fresh blue mussels, but certainly an option for smaller producers.