Oysters represent one of the most important aquaculture markets, yet global trends in the oyster culture industry have not been well assessed. In this paper, we will investigate long-run trends in oyster production and consumption, focusing on the impact of aquaculture and trade on the global market. Global oyster aquaculture production temporal trends mirror aquaculture production for most other species, with significant production increases beginning in the 1970s. Asia, specifically China, accounts for approximately 86% of global oyster culture production. France, Japan, South Korea, and USA account for most of the remaining production in both weight (metric tons) and value (USD). When compared to the massive increase in Chinese production since the 1970s, production in other countries has remained relatively stable. However, the importance of aquaculture growth remains high for many countries, such as the USA, where there has been a significant decline in wild oyster reefs and associated wild landings.
Innovations in aquaculture and the ability to raise oysters with more marketable attributes have led to a larger focus on the half-shell market. American imports consist largely of fresh farmed Canadian oysters almost exclusively consumed on the half shell. French consumption consists almost entirely of domestic, cultured oysters on the half shell. With an increase in demand for oysters on the half shell, aquaculture allows for the opportunity to provide a premium product that can fill this niche.