Scallops in Peru

During the last 30 years, scallop has become the most important cultured species in Peru in terms of export value, although export volumes are not that high compared to Peru’s other seafood exports. Peruvian scallop is a demanded and expensive product, which is only produced and exported by a limited number of countries besides Peru. Scallop availability dropped dramatically since 2015 as a result of El Niño coastal effects, also decreasing dramatically exports; in 2017 755 tonnes of the total exports of 1,052 tonnes found its way to principally France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2017 Sanipes closed off most of the scallop production areas in the country to the European market due to lack of a monitoring program (Undercurrent News, 2017). As a result, Peru is only able to export roe off scallops to the US. Scallop production is slowly growing again, and the closed off areas might open up in the Summer of 2018. In the meantime, a lot of Peruvian exporters decided to focus on their actual customers and to refuse new contacts. Others started to expand their product range by making value-added products to increase their sales. Larger Peruvian processing plants like Iprisco are even being used by Argentinian companies for cutting and treating Argentinian red shrimps.

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Scallop production and export statistics

Species wise production

Source: 2007 to 2016 data comes from the FAO (2018), 2017 data comes from the Ministry of Production of Peru (2018).

In Peru only one species of scallop is being produced, namely the Peruvian calico scallop (Argopecten purpuratus). Production volumes fluctuate strongly due to El Niño effects and climatic changes, as scallops are very sensitive to changes in

ocean temperature, oxygen levels and currents. El Niño events happen at irregular intervals of two to nine years and can last for nine months to two years. Events have been recorded for 2004–2005, 2006–2007, 2009–2010 and 2014-2016. While it is difficult to make out the effects for the other years, the impact of El Niño event in 2009-10 and 2014-16 can be seen by the heavy drop in production volumes in 2012 and 2015.

Production figures for 2016 and 2017 showed downward trend in production. In the Sechura Bay a short-term increase of the seawater temperature has caused some mortality again, which is one of the areas that have been closed of to the European market by Sanipes in 2017. Some companies, like Acuapesca are being reluctant to accept new customers as they barely can serve their regular clients. To be competitive, you need to be willing to pay the right price, which depends on the availability and season, and to engage in long term partnerships. Spot market buying is likely to be difficult as long as production does not increase significantly.

Region wise production

Source: Ministry of Production of Peru, Aquaculture Department (2018)

Ancash and Piura are the main production areas which are located respectively in central and northern Peru. The warming effect of El Niño is favorable for the scallop production in central and southern regions of Peru and detrimental in northern Peru. Vice versa, scallop production

in northern Peru is better during cold years (Mendo et al., 2016). The huge drop in production in Piura can, therefore, be attributed to the onset of the most recent El Niño event of 2014-16. However, the production levels in central Ancash appears not to have been positively influenced by the events, as production has remained stable. In 2016, production levels in Ancash increased a bit due to more availability of larvae. However, 2017 started again with some mortality in the Bay of Sechura due to higher sea water temperatures resulting 38% lower production figures.

Export markets

Source: Source: Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre, & ADEX, Asociación de Exportadores

Scallop exports fluctuate as much as production does, and the export volume fluctuated between almost 15,000 tons in 2013 to dramatically low volumes of 1,052 tonnes in 2017. Although there are exceptions like in 2013 when the United States was the largest market, France normally is the most

important market for Peruvian scallops. The French market is also relatively stable. Although exports to France fluctuate according to availability of the product, the fluctuation is less than other markets such as the United States. The ban placed on fresh chilled scallops from Peru by the European Union in 2008 has not yet been lifted. The ban was put in place after a Hepatitis A outbreak among European consumers, which could be traced back to eating bivalve molluscs from Peru. While the outbreak was not caused by scallops (Donax clams (Donax spp.) were found responsible), the virus was likely contracted through contaminated waters. As a result, export of fresh and chilled scallops from Peru to the European Union has been banned, unless they have eviscerated or undergone heat treatment.

In the French market, Peru mainly competes with the United Kingdom, Argentina, the United States and Canada. In the years that Peru has abundant product, it is structurally the largest supplier of frozen scallops to France. In the years with fewer products available such as 2012, 2015 and 2016 the United Kingdom takes over the pole position in France. The imports of scallops to France seem to have declined in recent years from 28,000 tonnes at its peak in 2010 to only 535 tonnes in 2017 due to lack of availability and price (Undercurrent News, 2017a).

The European Union, with 969 tonnes the largest market for scallops with on average 15 percent higher prices than in the United States, has re-approved China for scallop exports to the EU, which were banned since 2007 (Undercurrent News, 2016). While at the moment only one company has received approval, it is likely that China will increase its scallop exports to the EU significantly and Chinese products will compete with those from other scallop suppliers. But as of now, no scallops have been yet exported to the EU (Undercurrent News, 2017b). With every scallop origin having its own unique selling points (size, wild versus cultured, species etc.) it is likely that Peru will remain as competitive at the moment, especially as global demand for scallop is increasing. Peruvian scallops differ from other scallops by being intermediate in size, primarily 20-40/kg; they are larger than the Argentinean scallop and smaller than European and North American sizes (Undercurrent News, 2017c). However, instability of supply of scallops from Peru makes it more important for buyers to have access to other sources as well.

Export products in 2017 (tonnes)

Source: Source: Trade Map (2018), International Trade Centre,

Exports from Peru consist almost entirely of frozen scallops. Although some of the largest exporters have started to invest in value-addition, like ready to eat products, to compensate for the lower margins on frozen scallop products, so far these investments have not been reflected in trade statistics. The 2008 EU regulation will remain in place at least until 30th

November 2017. After that the European Commission will review the situation in Peru, to see whether the Peruvian competent authority can provide satisfactory insurance that the deficiencies identified in control system of virus detection in live bivalve molluscs have been corrected (EUR-Lex, 2015).

At this moment it is not yet indicated whether the ban will be lifted. The EU regulation has resulted in a drop from 700 tons of fresh and chilled scallop exports from Peru in 2010 to only 77 tons in 2017 going only to France and the Netherlands. Although the fresh and chilled market is relatively small, it is very lucrative. The main suppliers worldwide are the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Indonesia.


Last updated: 01/10/2018

  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council

    # Farms 12
    # Farms in assessment 0
    # CoC partners 1
    Total volume (MT) 1,928

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Risk assessment

Environmental risks

  • Sensibility for diseases and waste from the sea. As the farming takes place at open sea, there are no barriers for diseases, alga, bacterias, which might cause high mortality.
  • Entry of diseases and waste from rivers. Due to the lack of an adequate system of waste reduction and cleaning, all waste from inland villages end up in the sea.
  • Global climate changes. Scallops are very sensitive to changes of temperature of the sea water.
  • Submarine currents. Climate occurrences like ‘El Niño’ can cause submarine currents with or without changes of temperature. Especially bottom farming can be affected by these submarine currents.
  • Overfishing of natural areas where the larvae come from.

Social risks

  • Workers safety and rights in production plants and farms.
  • Criminality (thefts of scallops).
  • Informality, corruption by part of governmental institutions, lack of association.
  • Neighborhood conflicts (for example, difference in adequate system of waste reduction and cleaning by authorities between neighborhoods).

Quality and supply chain risks

  • Climate changes influencing product quality
  • Lack of international certifications like GlobalG.A.P., ASC, BRC and IFS.
  • Slow governmental process at all stages (documents, permits, inspections, export certificate, etc).

Species in Peru

Click on the species and find out more about the species in Peru