The main shellfish species are Nephrops (Scottish Langoustine), brown crab, scallops, squid and lobster.
Markets for shellfish are principally European export, and can be segmented into three main categories: live, chilled and frozen. Live is the highest value product, because of the cost of production and transport. Demand for live product is high, but the volume of supply is low, due to a need for expert fishing methods and care of the catch.
The 3 main markets for Scottish langoustine are France, Spain and Italy.
Langoustine sizes are referred to in pieces per kilogram. For example size 10-15 has 10 to 15 pieces per kilo, and is therefore larger than size 41-50, which has 41 to 50 pieces per kilo and is much smaller.
Packaging for chilled product in all countries is in 3 or 5 kilo poly boxes, whereas frozen is more complex with various types of packaging, different weights and a varying percentage of glaze.
Brown crab is the main species landed into Scotland and is processed and sold as whole crab, white crab meat, and brown crab meat.
The main European market for crab is France, followed by Spain and Portugal. It may be sold whole live or cooked chilled. The meat is also used as an ingredient in value added products.
The UK foodservice and retail sectors are important markets for white crab meat, which is considered a high value product. It is more expensive than brown meat, because it is more difficult to extract from the claws and the body of the crab, and involves high labour costs.
Brown crab meat can be used in soups, pâtés and sauces, but demand in the UK is poor, despite availability in high volumes. It is sold to the foodservice market at a much lower price than white meat.
Dressed crab is also a market outlet within the UK retail sector, but this is a traditional product which is in decline.
The market for scallops is divided into whole shell, half shell and meat. Scallops can be dredged or dive caught. Dive caught scallops are usually destined for the live market and fetch a higher price, as they are considered to be of better quality.
• The principal markets for scallop meat are France and Italy.
• Spain, France and Italy are important markets for whole shell scallops, which go to the high value live markets.
• A small volume of scallop meats and live whole shell are destined for the UK retail and wholesale market, respectively.
Squid is fished seasonally in Scotland, during the summer and autumn months, and is marketed directly to Spain. Although the majority is sold in frozen form, Scottish squid also competes on the fresh market with French and Italian landings.
Lobsters are caught all year round but the market is highly volatile and volumes are low. Periods of high demand include Christmas and Easter. This species is usually a side-line for creel boats and processors involved in live langoustine or crab markets.