Fish products sector profile - France

September 2021
Produced by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

1. The sector at a glance

The French are traditional consumers of farmed and wild-caught fishery products, sold as fresh, frozen and processed products. It is estimated that they consume 33 kg per person per year[1], placing the French in third position after the Spanish and Portuguese. In terms of market size in the European Union, France - 67 million inhabitants - ranks second after Spain with a consumption of 2.2 million tonnes. The French are important consumers of shellfish (mussels and oysters) and crustaceans.

The French fishery is not enough to supply the domestic market. It brings part of the volumes of wild fish consumed as fresh products, but in recent years the aquaculture species have become the most consumed in France: salmon, seabass, sea bream. In the case of tropical shrimps, they are imported frozen and cooked in France, then sold fresh. Most frozen products offered on the French market are imported except tuna.

Imports of seafood reached 5.7 billion euros in 2020 for 1,176,000 tons of products, exports amount to 1.4 billion euros for 341,000 tons[2].

Major suppliers to France are :

  1. Norway                  13.8 %
  2. United Kingdom      10.5 %
  3. Spain                       9.7 %
  4. Ecuador                  4.7 %
  5. Germany                 4.5 %
  6. Netherlands            4.2 %
  7. Iceland                   3.6 %
  8. China                     3.5 %

The consumption of fishery products has been inconsistent over the past three years, because of the COVID-19 related lockdowns. If the market comes back to its normal course, we could estimate that it is slightly declining [3]. The market is mature, supplied mostly by aquaculture products, however changes are noted: introduction of cheap tropical farmed fish (panga, lean) especially in the school catering sector, increase of fillets and decrease of whole fish, new signs of quality (MSC, French catch, organic). The recent increase in the prices of some fish has weighed on consumption.

2. Changes in the sector and in the market

Since CETA came into force, customs duties on entry into the European Union have been removed for a large portion of Canadian fishery products. However, the elimination of duties on certain products such as processed lobster is progressive, spread over 3, 5 or 7 years. Full elimination will take effect on January 1, 2024.

Canada only supplies 1.03 %[4] of the French imports of fishery products (58 millions euros[5]). Before CETA, Canada's strength lay mainly in the molluscs (scallop) and crustaceans (live and frozen lobster) sectors.

The market is mature, but French supplies are stable or decreasing, and European supplies (in wild fisheries) are generally not growing. Aquaculture provides the bulk of consumption. As a result, imports are expected to continue at a high level.

Canada faces global competition on the large European Union market, products must be able to differentiate if you want to sell them at a higher price.

In a number of species such as lobster, Canada is facing direct competition from the United States, but Canada's competitive position has slightly improved with the coming into force of CETA.

It is widely believed that CETA's entry into force will allow Canada to regain some of the American market share in the live lobster sector, and that it will also allow for diversification in the range of products exportable to France in a competitive manner.

Canadian export statistics for fishery products destined for France underestimate the actual quantities destined for France, because the products can be cleared in another European Union country. About half of the products imported in frozen containers pass through a port in the Netherlands or Belgium. This clearance issue also affects imports from Norway which are cleared in Sweden and therefore appear as originating in Sweden in the import statistics.

3. Sub-sectors

3.1 Lobster

The two lobster species consumed in France come from the United Kingdom, and from Ireland for the European species, and from the United States and from Canada for the American species. The European species is more popular with consumers than the American species, but landed volumes are not sufficient. Canada could counter this lack of popularity with promotional activities.

Lobster ProductsTARIC 2017Duties (start)CategoryDuties
Live lobster0306.32.108A000000
Frozen lobster (whole)0306.12.108B642000
Frozen tails cooked or not, frozen meat, uncooked0306.12.9016B1284000
Lobster meat, prepared or preserved1605.30.9020C16.6713.33106.673.300

3.1.1 Live lobster (03063210 European tariff heading - TARIC)


Customs duties on live lobster are zero for all origins.

Market share

French imports, all origins, of whole live lobsters were 2,573 tonnes in 2020 for € 45 million. Imports were dominated by the United Kingdom (843tonnes) followed by Canada (1 008 tones), and the United States (338 tonnes). Canada has a 33.8% market share in French live lobster imports (in value).

Importers’ opinion

According to importers, they all buy live homarus americanus lobsters at more or less 0.50 € / kg. With CETA coming into force, importers sought to get closer to Canadian suppliers, either by dealing directly with them or through an American company that has access to the Canadian resource. The competitive advantage of CETA vis-à-vis the American origin no longer exists since August 1, 2020, the importation being now free of customs duties, including for lobsters imported from the United States.

The transportation issue remains important. Live lobster flows from the United States are better assured than from Canada, but the situation could improve.

3.1.2 Frozen lobster, whole (03061210 European tariff heading - TARIC)


Customs duties were eliminated for all origins on August 1, 2020.

Market share

France imports for € 14 million of whole frozen lobster, 30% of which comes from Canada. The main competitor is the United Kingdom, but these lobsters may be Canadian. In retail stores, all frozen whole lobsters come from Canada.

Market outlook

The product competes with other frozen crustaceans – rock lobster, wild or farmed shrimp.

3.1.3 Frozen lobster, not whole (03061290 European tariff heading - TARIC)


This code contains raw or cooked frozen tails, and HPP raw meat


Customs duties were eliminated for all origins on August 1, 2020.

Market share

France imports € 6.7 million of frozen whole lobster, 60% of which comes from Canada. The main competitor is the United Kingdom.

Market outlook

With the elimination of customs duties, lobster tails should strengthen their competitive position in catering. Although it is an expensive product, HPP lobster meat should find a market in catering and also in the processing industry. The foodservice products market has been severely disrupted by COVID-19-related lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, but is expected to return to a more normal situation.

3.1.4 Frozen lobster meat, cooked (160530 European tariff heading - TARIC)


They are mainly intended for catering (foodservice) and the processing sector (B-to-B)


Customs duties are being eliminated (see table).

There is already a duty-free quota for products sold for further processing.

Canada has a market share of 51% but again the statistics are misleading because the products identified as of Belgian origin are actually Canadian products.

Importers’ opinion

Some consider that the current duty-free quota for products intended for the processing industry can cover the market. Others believe that full and unconditional duty-free market access will facilitate the arrival of products and serve the foodservice sector with competitive products. The possibility of a transfer of current purchases of rock lobster meat and crabmeat to lobster meat has been reported by some importers. Here too the market has been disrupted by the lockdowns linked to COVID-19.

3.2 Scallops (sold as « Noix de St-Jacques » in France)

Canadian landings

Canadian landings of Placopecten magellanicus scallops is close to 66 000 t for 169 millions $.


Duties on fresh and frozen scallop meats have been eliminated.

Market share

French imports of scallops amounted to 155 million euros in 2020, including 104 million euros of frozen scallop meat. On frozen scallop meat, purchases in Canada (therefore exclusively Placopecten) account for 26% (27 million euros).

Canada is virtually absent from the market for fresh scallops (<1%), while the United States accounts for 5.5% of fresh scallop meat, for 2.5 million euros.

Importers’ opinion

French importers unanimously expressed a real additional potential for Placopecten magellanicus. The disappearance of customs duties could also encourage the development of sales of fresh scallop meat.

3.3  Salmon

Canadian production

Canadian landings of wild salmon (several Pacific species) is in the order of 4,500 tonnes for $ 18 million.

Canadian production of farmed salmon is in the order of 118,000 tonnes for $ 914 billion, of which 89,000 tonnes in British Columbia and 29,500 tonnes in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The French salmon market reaches 178,000 tonnes of imported products, worth € 1.2 billion. Fresh salmon represents 132,000 t of the total, mainly from Salmo salar farmed salmon from Norway and the United Kingdom. Salmon is the first species of fish consumed in France.

3.3.1 Wild salmon, frozen


Duties on all fish (excepted cod) have been eliminated

Canadian market share on the French market

France imports small volumes of frozen wild salmon (whole or fillets) – several species.

3.3.2 Wild salmon, fresh


Duties on all fish (excepted cod) have been eliminated

Canadian market share on the French market

France imports small volumes of fresh wild salmon, during the Summer season (several species).

3.4 Shrimps of the Pandalus borealis species

Canadian production

Canadian Pandalus borealis shrimp production is 58, 462 tonnes valued at $ 263 million. This is the third species fished, in value, after lobster and snow crab.

The French shrimp market exceeds 100,000 tonnes of imported products, mainly frozen whole shrimp from aquaculture. Farmed shrimp is the first species of crustacean consumed in France. A large part of the shrimp is cooked in France by specialized companies, the fresh cooked shrimps are then sold at the fish counters in supermarkets, or prepacked.

3.4.1 Pandalus shrimp, cooked and shelled


Customs duties have been eliminated on cooked & shelled shrimps for those packaged in packages of less than 2 kg (European tariff heading - TARIC 1605 21 10), and there is an import quota of 23,000 t for shrimps in packages of more than 2 kg. In 2024, all tariffs  will be eliminated on all Canadian shrimp.

Canadian market share on the French market

France imports small volumes of Pandalus shrimps, cooked and shelled, frozen.

Importers’ opinion

The removal of tariffs on these products should bring Canadian prices to Icelandic and Greenlandic prices.

3.4.2 Whole shrimp, frozen


Duties on whole shrimps, frozen have been eliminated (European tariff heading - TARIC 0306 16).

Canadian market share on the French market

France imports very small volume of frozen shelled Pandalus shrimps.

Importers’ opinion

Duty elimination could increase exported volumes.

3.5 Snow crab

Canadian production

Canadian snow crab production is 74,500 tonnes valued at $ 226 million. It is the second species landed, in value, after lobster..


Duties have been eliminated on sections. Duties on crab meat classified under 1605 10 (8% initially) will be entirely eliminated in 2024.

Canadian market share on the French market

France imports very small quantities of sections, and snow crab meat extracted in China or Vietnam does not have Canadian customs origin.

Importers’ opinion

The elimination of tariffs could increase the volume of trade, and could encourage Canadian processors to extract meat in Canada in order to benefit from the complete elimination of tariffs over time, a CETA provision.

3.6 Seafish (various)


Tariffs have been eliminated on all fish and their fillets, with the exception of cod / cod fillets where the 7.5% historical tariff is eliminated over 7 years (a quota of 1000 tonnes of cod fillets exists).

Current and future export levels

There are modest exports to France for the following products: cod (fresh), hake (fresh), capelin (frozen), seabass (frozen), smelt (frozen), cod fillet (frozen), flat fish - halibut for example - (frozen), dried cod, salted cod, smoked herring, dried pollock.

Exports can now grow according to relative world market prices, without the constraint of customs duties.

3.7 Crustaceans and molluscs (various)


Tariffs on all fresh crustaceans and molluscs have been eliminated, and also tariffs on frozen unprocessed crustaceans and molluscs.

Current and future export levels

There are exports to France for the following products: clams (frozen), soft-shell clams (frozen), geoducks (fresh), sea urchins and sea urchin eggs (frozen).

Exports can now grow without the constraint of customs duties.

3.8 Freshwater fish

Canadian production

Canada's freshwater fish production includes some 8,244 tonnes of pikeperch (walleye), 4,486 tonnes of whitefish, 1,480 tonnes of pike and 581 tonnes of smelt. The marketing of freshwater fish is distinct from that of marine products, being managed in part by a state cooperative (Freshwater Fish).


Tariffs have been eliminated on all freshwater fish and their fillets, as long as they meet the CETA rules of origin conditions.

Market share

Canada plays a marginal role, except for walleye and pike.

Competition for walleye and pike comes from Eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

Importers’ opinion

According to the importers interviewed, the low Canadian exports to France are constrained by the small size of the market (especially for pike), and the non-competitiveness vis-à-vis equivalent products from eastern countries.

There is potential for walleye, pike, whitefish, smelt, as whole, in fillets or as meat, depending on the species.

4. Conclusion

4.1 Strengthening value chains and creating added value 

Logistics - Improved logistics links with Atlantic Canada are driving the expansion of live lobster and fresh scallop exports. Previously, logistics was presented as a competitive advantage of US exporters.

Lower market access costs could be used by Canadians to inject more value into their products. These opportunities exist: lobster tail slices, boneless portions, pike, snow crab shelled in Canada, cooked shrimp shelled in Canada.

4.2 Accompanying importers

Several French importers, who are already working with Canadian exporters, said they were unaware of the Canadian offer except lobster and scallops. No doubt because of the limited supply of Canadian fisheries products actually processed in Canada. It seems appropriate to promote the full range of Canadian products available for the French / European market to importers. While some importers have welcomed the presence of Canadians on the Canadian booth at SEG, and the quality of their promotional material, the Canadian promotion remains below that of major exporters of aquatic products (United States, Ireland, Norway ...).

All agree that the Seafood Expo (SEG) is the place for many discussions.

5. Note on the CETA rules of origin

Products must meet the Product Specific Rules of Origin (PSRO) to be eligible for CETA preferential treatment (elimination of tariffs). Exporters may ask the Trade Commissioner Service about how the rules apply to their products. For fishery products, all fishery products landed in Canada and processed in Canada are Canadian originated and eligible for preferential treatment.

Sometimes lobster products are made from lobsters caught in the United States. The CETA agreement provides for an exemption from the PSRO with "alternative rules of origin" for a fixed quantity of processed products. Please consult with the Trade Commissioner Service for practical conditions for using these quotas, and for any questions regarding CETA rules of origin.

Similarly, there are alternative rules of origin quotas for some other fishery products processed in Canada from non Canadian raw materials, these quotas can be consulted at : annex 5-A table B1.

Contacts at the Canadian Government Level

Canadian Embassy to France
Contact : Yannick Dheilly, Trade Commissioner
Mail :
Web :

Global Affairs Canada
125, Sussex Drive
Ottawa (Ontario)  K1A 0G2

Trade Commissioner Service (TCS)
Web :
Market surveys

Agriculture and Agri Food Canada (AAFC)
Exclusive market information
Mail :
Web :

Useful Internet Websites

CETA – Text of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Seafood Expo Global (SEG) – every year in the Spring in Barcelona, Spain
Contact : (French only)

SNCE – Syndicat National du Commerce Extérieur des Produits Congelés et Surgelés – importers’ association
Mail :
Web :


JolyMer Conseil
Contact : Agnès Joly
Web :

Setup Partners
Contact : Martine Foulloy
Tel +33 6 12 82 40 62 
Web :


[1] Source: Quality expressed in fresh weight equivalent

[2] Source: EuroStat

[3] - Source: FranceAgriMer

[4] - Source: EuroStat

[5] - Source: Eurostat

Date Modified: