French oyster production has dropped from 135,000 t in 2000 to 81,000 t in 2012. France remains by far the largest oyster producer in Europe followed by Ireland who produced 7,500 t in 2012. France however has lost its world ranking of being the 4th largest producer to the US, which now produces over 150,000 t. This is due to juvenile oyster mortalities observed since 2008.
France is also Europe’s largest oyster market being a traditional consumer of oysters in shell. The significant drop in production has changed market forces with a consequent rise in selling prices. According to a recent study carried out by the French shellfish committee, price is a purchase barrier for 50% of French consumers.
However, oysters still have a good image and only 10% of regular consumers have reported reduced purchases of oysters. The average selling price of oysters for home consumption in 2012 was €7.80 per kg, which was 8% higher than 2011. Sales for home consumption fell by 8% during the same period. Supermarkets account for 56% of sales, the remaining sales being from markets (27%), fish shops (10%), and direct sales.
2013 prices will no doubt continue to be on a rising trend since seasonal juvenile mortalities have been further compounded by high adult oyster mortalities in summer 2013 as measured by Ifremer. However, trade sources suggest that the consequence of the production decline is a decrease in stocking densities and a consequent rise in product quality to accompany the necessary rise in value.
Source: Bord Bia