• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Nigerians’ search for cheap protein drives record mackerel import


Nigerians who love seafood played a starring role in boosting Korean mackerel exports last year, according to the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI).

Nigerians, along with Ghana and Ivory Coast, emerged as top destinations for Korean mackerel, collectively accounting for over 70% of Korea’s mackerel exports in the final quarter of 2023. This strong demand from Africa helped propel Korea’s overall mackerel exports to a record $167 million in 2023, a whopping 63% increase compared to 2022.

The surge in Korean mackerel imports to Nigeria and other African countries can be attributed to supply gaps left by Russia and Japan.

Russia’s mackerel exports were hampered by sanctions imposed due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, while Japan’s fishing activities were restricted following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

These restrictions created an opportunity for Korean mackerel, particularly the smaller blue mackerel variety, which is less popular among domestic consumers in Korea.

While Nigerians traditionally favor smoked mackerel, the affordability and readily available supply of Korean blue mackerel proved attractive. This shift in consumption patterns not only benefitted Korean exporters but also helped meet the growing demand for protein in Nigeria.

“The rise in Korean mackerel exports to Nigeria is a win-win situation,” said a KMI official. “Korean suppliers found a new market for their product, while Nigerian consumers gained access to a high-quality, affordable source of protein.”

This trend is expected to continue in the coming year, with Nigeria likely to remain a key market for Korean mackerel.