Russia exported fish and seafood to 62 countries in 2021

Restrictions on imports of Russian fish products through the ports of Dalian and Qingdao were imposed at the end of 2020 by local authorities and Covid-19 response centers. Due to measures to combat the pandemic, imports of unpackaged products, including in bulk, were prohibited at these ports. However, Russia exported totally more than 2 million tonnes of fish and other seafood worth over $7 billion in 2021. Exports jumped 33.7% year-on-year by value.

The Netherlands is one of major importers

The largest importers of Russian fish were South Korea with $2.2 billion, up 35.1% year-on-year; the Netherlands with $1.5 billion, up 71%; and Japan with $658 million, up 160%. Exports to China, meanwhile, dropped 30.7% to $1.1 billion.

According to the Argus information system, exports to Japan rose 93% from 41,700 tonnes to 80,600 tonnes, and exports to South Korea rose 49%. Exports to the Netherlands remained at a steadily high level of 116,100 tonnes, somewhat below the 119,900 tonnes exported in 2020. Please see the table below for more details.

Dynamics of Russian fish exports: 2020- 2021, in tonnes




Dynamics, %




93 %

South Korea



49 %




127 %




177 %




123 %




112 %





United Kingdom



42 %





The Netherlands




Growth of Russian fish supplies to Europe

As representatives of the All-Russian Association of Fisheries Enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Exporters (VARPE) explained, one of the reasons for increasing exports to the Netherlands and other European countries is “a steady trend towards reorientation of supplies and the search for new markets for Russian fish products.” In addition, according to the organization's observations, the growth of Russian fish supplies to Europe was positively affected by not entirely successful pollock season in the United States.

In 2021, “pollock catch in Alaska has seriously decreased, therefore, the volume of production of American pollock fillets has also decreased, most of which is traditionally exported to the EU. This opened a “window” to Europe for Russian first-frozen pollock fillets,” the association specified.

African and CIS countries also increased imports from Russia

Nigeria was the largest African buyer of Russian fish products in 2021, importing 32,200 tonnes, a 1.8-fold increase from the 17,400 tonnes imported in 2020.

CIS countries also increased imports from Russia. Exports to Uzbekistan increased 89% from 1,300 tonnes to 2,500 tonnes, to Tajikistan 59% from 2,200 tonnes to 3,600 tonnes, to Moldova 24% from 1,300 tonnes to 1,700 tonnes, to Belarus 21% from 40,300 tonnes to 48,800 tonnes, to Kazakhstan 18% from 18,400 tonnes to 21,800 tonnes, and to Kyrgyzstan 6% from 40,300 tonnes to 48,800 tonnes.

Exports to Ukraine remained the same as last year at 32,200 tonnes.

Russian ships start offloading fish at Chinese port

Russian ships have started offloading fish after China opened up the ports of Dalian and Qingdao for bulk fish deliveries. The first Russian vessel with fish products entered the port of Dalian on January 16. The refrigerated transport vessel Vysotsk (JSC Gidrostroy) delivered more than 7,000 tonnes of product from several Russian companies, primarily Alaska pollock, pollock roe and milt, as well as pollock and herring meal.

Restrictions on imports of Russian fish products through the ports of Dalian and Qingdao were imposed at the end of 2020 by local authorities and Covid-19 response centers. Due to measures to combat the pandemic, imports of unpackaged products, including in bulk, were prohibited at these ports. Shipments were only allowed in refrigerators or containers.

The restrictions had an impact on the logistics for fish caught in the Far East basin. Fishing companies diversified exports and increased shipments to Russia's domestic market. Meanwhile, negotiations were held with China to resume shipments. The restrictions were finally lifted on January 10 for Dalian and January 11 for Qingdao. Rosselkhoznadzor has reregistered Russian producers and transporters to restore deliveries to China. More than 1,000 companies have already been included on China's approved list.

Russia also received the right to supply fish to Vietnam in 2021, as well as the right to deliver various fish and seafood products to Ecuador, Angola, Thailand, and Iraq, Rosselkhoznadzor said.

Processed products increase and increase in exports

China's ban on receiving Russian fish, which lasted for more than a year, has led to multimillion-dollar losses of pollock miners: estimated losses are $400 million due to the closure of Chinese ports.  But they were able to increase the production of more expensive products - fish fillets and minced meat by one and a half times.

According to Rosstat, the production in Russia of highly processed products - fish meat (including minced meat) - for 11 months of 2021 increased by 61.4% or 15.5 thousand tons - and reached 40.7 thousand tons. The increase in production of fish meat is due, among other things, to the commissioning of 21 out of 24 fish processing enterprises as part of the investment quota program. New plants can collectively process about 3.3 million tons of aquatic biological resources from more than 5 million tons extracted in 2021.

The challenge facing the industry is to globally upgrade and modernize manufacturing facilities to ultimately produce end products. As part of the investment quotas, it is planned to build another 8-10 large fish processing plants in the Far East.

Also, in January-November 2021, the production of fish ice cream fillets increased by more than 23%, or 38.5 thousand tons - up to 204.0 thousand tons. Fish, including fillets, smoked - by almost 3%, or 1.7 thousand tons and exceeded 59 thousand tons.

The increase in processed products led, among other things, to an increase in exports. Thus, export deliveries of fish fillets increased by 38.5 thousand tons in 2021, to 143.8 thousand tons.

The main effect that the Chinese quarantine had on the industry was a shift in attention from the export of raw materials to its own processing and technical modernization, to the “ideology of the coast”. In addition, it turned out that if you wish, you can find demand for Russian fish abroad, and this is good news not only for fish producers, but also for producers of commercial aquaculture.

LAN Team Moscow

Sources: Fishretail, FSVPS,,, RBC