We have received official communications from the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) raising awareness of concerns in relation to squid speciation.
These concerns are based on market trends, situational factors and specific intelligence which NFCU is able to share concerning the potential for fraud risks in this area.
This information is for members only and not to be circulated further.
Several species of squid are routinely imported into the UK. These species can be fished by, and transported from, multiple countries. In many cases consignments of squid are subject to a third country tariff. The tariff can vary based on both the species of the squid and the country from which it is being exported.
Certain species of frozen squid can be more sought after than others and as a result command a higher price on the market. Therefore, it can be financially beneficial to incorrectly declare squid to be a particular species owing to its end value, as well as the tariff rates which may apply in line with the species declaration.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the demand for squid in the UK as the majority of squid which enters the UK goes into the hospitality sector. The disruption to this sector over the last twelve months has resulted in a surplus of frozen product and consequently issues included within this report may relate to historically imported frozen product.
NFCU understands that frozen raw squid products entering the UK from China have been subject to species misdeclaration.
Products entering the UK declared as Illex Argentinus (Argentine shortfin squid) have been found through laboratory analysis to be Todarodes Pacificus (Japanese flying squid). Due to scarcity, Illex Argentinus variety has recently commanded a higher price than Todarodes Pacificus. These two species have differing official sales designations.
This is a practice which has also been noted by European partners, with incorrect details also recorded on catch certificates and health certificates.
More historically, intelligence has suggested attempts by Chinese fishing vessels to meet shortfalls in both these species through the fraudulent landing of Dosidicus Gigas (jumbo flying squid).
We understand that squid speciation can be challenging to perform robustly from an analytical perspective.
Members are advised to confirm due diligence checks relating to product authenticity are in place to ensure that:
- Frozen raw squid products purchased from suppliers have the correct designation in relation to the declared species;
- Members are fully content with product traceability.
NFCU requests that any concerns relating to this thematic area – particularly where a large scale of misrepresentation is evidenced or suspected – be raised with them.
NFCU would also be interested in any further reflections from members around any relevant economic dynamics within this sector.
Information can be shared with NFCU by:
- emailing email@example.com;
- via the webform at https://www.food.gov.uk/contact/businesses/report-safety-concern/report-a-food-crime;
- over the telephone via the Food Crime Confidential hotline, 020 7276 8787;
- Via an existing relationship with NFCU’s Relationship Management team.