Eel is one of the most important commercial fish species, as its consumption is increasing significantly owing to its distinctive flavor and high content of nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Eel is majorly consumed in Europe, the U.S., Japan, Korea, China, and New Zealand. According to the data provided by Eurofish International Organization, world production of eel has grown from 4.9 thousand tons in 2012 to 6 thousand tons in 2015, with European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark being the largest contributors in the global eel production.
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There are two types of smoked eel products available in the global market, which include hot-smoked and cold-smoked products. Hot-smoking of fish involves smoking and cooking at the same time by exposing it to both, smoke and heat in a controlled environment. The hot-smoked products are cooked at around 85°C for a short time (approximately 2-3 hours) to maintain the flavor and the moisture in the product. The high temperature of cooking ensures that the end product is free from microbes and safe to eat.
Cold smoking is a method of preserving fish. The process of cold smoking, is done at the ambient cooking temperature, at around 30°C for a longer period of time, between 6-12 hours. However, strict sanitation and safety measures are required, in order to ensure that the end product is pathogen free and safe to eat.
Steadily rising awareness regarding high nutrient content of eel is fuelling growth of the market. The cooked eel fish has high protein, lipid fat, calories, and moisture content. It has high content of vitamin A, B12, isoleucine, lysine, tryptophan, threonine, and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, iron, potassium, manganese, magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, and selenium. Consumption of fish is associated with various health benefits as it decreases cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of developing arthritis, and promotes good eyesight and nervous system functioning. Therefore, the consumption of eel is increasing due to these factors, thus aiding in growth of the market.
Salt and smoke provides texture and flavor to eel, which is a major factor for increasing consumption of smoked products. Furthermore, various developments in the packaging industry such as vacuum packaging with high barrier films have aided in increasing shelf life of the product. Therefore, increasing developments in the packaging industry is anticipated to fuel the market growth for smoked eel. Moreover, increasing aquaculture industry and rising consumption of seafood are further fuelling growth of the smoked eel market. For instance, according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) survey, in 2016, the global per capita seafood consumption increased to 20 kg per person per year.
In terms of revenue, Europe is anticipated to contribute significantly in the global smoked eel market throughout the forecast period. Rising consumption and production of eel in the region is majorly supporting growth of the market. For instance, according to the Eurofish International Organization, in Germany the production of European eel has grown from 156 tons in 2014 to 159 tons in 2015 and the overall production of European eel in the region has grown from 1.420 tons in 2014 to 1.176 tons in 2015. Furthermore, the rising food processing industry in the region, is another factor, expected to support growth of the smoked eel market in Europe, during the forecast period.
Asia Pacific is expected to record the fastest growth in the global smoked eel market during the forecast period. This is majorly attributed to rising consumption of fish and seafood products in the region. For instance, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2016, Singapore imported US$ 1.07 billion or 193,700 metric tons of fish and seafood. Most of the fish and sea food products were imported from China (US$ 139 Mn or 20,543 metric tons), Malaysia (US$ 135 Mn or 43,812 metric tons), Indonesia (US$ 110 Mn or 31,995 metric tons), Vietnam (US$ 104 Mn or 32,599 metric tons), Norway (US$ 75 Mn or 8,685 metric tons), and Japan (US$ 58 Mn or 2,776 metric tons), according to USDA. Furthermore, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in Singapore, the consumption of fish and seafood per person per year, is about 22 kg, which is more than the global average of 20 kg.
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