Species valuation

The monetary value of EU imports of species included in the EU Annexes is estimated in this section. To calculate the value of relevant 2011 imports to the EU, we use a preliminary methodology developed by UNEP-WCMC for the 2010 Analysis of EU Annual Reports. This is the second year that this methodology has been applied.

1.       Methodology

To estimate the value of animal species listed in the EU Annexes import for all EU Member States, EU-reported import volumes (extracted from the CITES Trade Database) and species-specific value data submitted to United States Customs (included in the United States annual report to CITES) were used for calculations. The median value, based on the United States data, for each family/term/unit/source combination and corrected for inflation was multiplied by the corresponding EU-reported trade volume to obtain a total value for CITES-listed EU imports in 2011. In cases where there was an insufficient sample size to calculate a reliable value for the family/term/unit/source combination a suitable proxy was used (e.g. Order instead of Family or an alternative term or source); in cases where no suitable proxy could be found, the data was excluded. Valuation of EU plant imports was not undertaken as no value dataset with adequate coverage was available at the time of analysis[1]. Wildlife commodities (re-)exported by the EU were also not included in the analysis. Further details of the methodology, along with caveats to this approach, are included here.

2.       Overall value of EU imports of CITES-listed animal species in 2011

Total Value, excluding caviar extract

The monetary value of EU reported CITES-listed animal imports in 2011, excluding caviar extract, is estimated to be approximately USD662 million (~EUR499 million). The trade in reptiles accounted for 74% of the value of EU animal imports, reflecting the relatively high volume of EU imports of this group.


Proportion of EU value (2011 USD) of 2011 imports of animal products by class.


Caviar Extract

As in 2010, caviar extract represented the main commodity in trade by value, amounting to USD3.6 billion[2] (~EUR2.7 billion). This commodity is imported in very small volumes, and is used in cosmetics, luxury moisturising creams and skincare preparations for its purported anti-aging properties. According to the US Customs data, the estimated value of one kilogram of caviar extract is USD21 million (~EUR15.8 million) or USD21 000 per gram. This is based on the median value of 416 records within the US Customs dataset, spanning five years (2007-2011) and involving both US imports and exports. It is unclear whether the declared prices in the United States dataset represent the actual price for the extract in its natural form or whether this value represents the luxury commodity that contains the extract; however, caviar extract is known to be traded internationally in both forms.

In total, nearly 170 kg of extract were imported by the EU in 2011 from a variety of sturgeon species and hybrids; all extract originated from captive-bred sources.

Quantity and estimated value of caviar extract (in kg) imported by the EU in 2011 (all imports from captive-bred or captive-born sources) (rounded to two decimal places, where applicable).

[l]Taxon [l]Quantity (kg) [l]Estimated Value (Millions of US$, rounded to the nearest million) [l]% of extract value
[l][i]Acipenser baerii[/i] [r]94.70 [r]2017 [r]56%
[l][i]Acipenser naccarii[/i] [r]64.33 [r]1370 [r]38%
[l][i]Acipenser transmontanus[/i] [r]5.41 [r]115 [r]3%
[l][i]Acipenser[/i] hybrid [r]4.18 [r]89 [r]2%
[l][i]Acipenser gueldenstaedtii[/i] [r]0.42 [r]9 [r]0.25%
[l][i]Acipenser baerii x naccarii[/i] [r]0.15 [r]3 [r]0.09%
[l][i]Acipenser[/i] spp. [r]0.13 [r]3 [r]0.08%
[l]Total [r]169.31 [r]3606 [r]

Therefore, when caviar extract is included, the total value of CITES-listed animals and animal products imported by the EU in 2011 was estimated at USD4.3 billion (USD4 268 015 000 or ~EUR3.2 billion[3]. This is an increase of 14% compared with the 2010 estimates when this methodology was first applied[4].

The remainder of this analysis excludes caviar extract and focusses on the value of the remaining animal commodities in trade, as well as a brief overview of timber values.

3.       Key commodities imported by the EU by value

The proportional value of key commodities imported by the EU in 2011 is summarised below. As in 2010, when caviar extract is excluded, leather products and skins were the top two commodities by value, representing 41% and 31% of the estimated value respectively. Leather products and skins also represented the commodities imported at the largest volumes with 26% and 31% of the trade recorded as number of items (e.g. without a unit) respectively. With leather products outpacing skins in terms of value (but not by volume), it appears that a notable proportion of the overall value of the trade to the EU is in high value, luxury goods.


Value (2011 USD) of trade for the top five commodities imported by the EU in 2011, with an indication of the combined value of the remaining terms (“Other”) (excluding caviar extract).


LeatherSkinsRaw CoralsLive AnimalsCaviarOther

Leather products

Leather products (encompassing both small and large leather products) imported into the EU in 2011 were worth approximately USD274 million (~EUR206 million). An increase of 38% compared with a value of $198 million based on 2010 trade levels. Alligatoridae represented the predominant family in trade by economic value accounting for 70% of the EU imports of leather products by value; Pythonidae (12%) and Crocodylidae (12%) also represented a notable proportion of EU trade on the basis of estimated economic value. Three additional reptile families were imported in sufficient quantities to account for over $1 million each: Varanidae (4%), Colubridae (2%) and Teiidae (<1%). No families from other classes exceeded $1 million. Wild-sourced leather products accounted for over three quarters (78%; USD215 million or ~EUR162 million) of the economic value, again primarily the family Alligatoridae (representing 82% of the value of wild-sourced leather products).


Skins were the commodity imported by the EU at the highest level by volume, but represented the second most valuable commodity imported into the EU in 2011 after leather products (excluding caviar extract). This trade was estimated to be worth close to USD207 million (~EUR156 million), with reptiles representing the majority of the estimated value (90%) and mammals comprising the remainder. The estimated value of skin imports in 2011 is 48% higher than the value estimated for the 2010 skin imports. The three most important reptile families by estimated economic value for the skin trade were identical to those for leather products: Pythonidae (38%), Alligatoridae (35%) and Crocodylidae (17%).

Wild-sourced skins accounted for the majority of the value (53%) with skins of the family Alligatoridae providing 63% of wild-sourced skins by value. Captive-bred skins also represented a notable proportion (45%), primarily of the families Pythonidae (68%) and Crocodylidae (30%).

In addition to skins, imports of reptile “sides” were worth an estimated USD7.9 million (~EUR5.9 million), and mammal “plates” an estimated USD11.7 million (~EUR8.8 million).

Raw Corals

Raw corals comprised 9% of total estimated value of EU imports in 2011. The family Coralliidae (Appendix III/Annex C) accounted for the vast majority of the estimated value for this commodity (99%). The predominance of Corallidae is largely due to the fact that the median value for Corallidae was relatively high in comparison to other coral families/orders with a value of USD3675 per kg of wild-sourced raw corals. As a comparison, the median price for wild-sourced kg of raw corals for Scleractinian corals was USD1.03 per kg. In total, the EU imported 16220 kg of wild-sourced raw corals of Corallidae species, equivalent to an estimated USD59.6 million when the median value is applied.

Live Animals

The total estimated value of live animal imports into the EU in 2011 was over USD35.8 million (~EUR27 million), an increase of 88% over 2010 estimated values. As in 2010, mammals accounted for the majority of live animal trade by value (52%). Cercopithecidae was again the predominant mammal family, accounting for >97% of the value attributed to live mammals, and dominated by trade in one species: Macaca fascicularis.


Figure 4.3: Proportion of EU value (2011 USD) of 2011 imports of live animals by class. (‘Other’ includes Amphibia, Actinopterygii, Bivalvia, Arachnida, Insecta and Hydrozoa.)


Trade in live reptiles accounted for 26% of live imports by value in 2011. The live reptile trade was valued at USD9.3 million (~EUR7 million); this is more than double the value estimated for 2010 imports. The key reptile families in trade, in order of estimated value for 2011 imports, were: Testudinidae (25%), Geoemydidae (24%), Pythonidae (21%), and Emydidae (19%). The majority of the economic value was derived from captive-bred specimens (82%).

The value of live bird imports was relatively low, accounting for just over USD1 million and representing 3% of the estimated value of EU imports of live animals. The majority of the value can be attributed to birds from captive sources (72%), with only 14.5% of the value derived from wild-sourced birds.

The total value of EU imports of live invertebrates (USD6.3 million) was dominated by the species of the class Hirudinoidea (USD3 million; 51% of the value of live invertebrates, all due to trade in Hirudo medicinalis and H. verbena) and corals of the class Anthazoa (USD2.8 million; 45%). Imports of the family Acroporidae accounted for approximately a quarter (27%) of the total value of live corals, with Caryophyllidae (21%) and Mussidae (15%) also representing notable proportions. The majority of the values for both corals and leeches was derived from wild sourced specimens (69% of the Anthozoa value and 84% of the Hirudinoidea value).


The EU continues to be a key importer of caviar, which is a very low volume but high value product. Imports of caviar into the EU were estimated to be worth almost USD37 million (~EUR28 million) in 2011, with approximately 97% of the value of caviar derived from aquaculture (sources C and F) specimens, approximately reflecting the proportion of actual volumes of trade. The median values for captive-bred and wild caviar for combined species of the family Aciperseridae were comparable, with captive-bred caviar valued slightly higher: USD936/kg and USD882/kg respectively. The main species in trade were Acipenser baerii x gueldenstaedtii (37%), Acipenser schrenckii (16%), Acipenser transmontanus (11%) and Acipenser baerii (11%).

Other parts and derivatives

Five additional parts and derivatives imported into the EU in 2011 are worth noting: meat, carvings, bodies, tusks and medicine. Each had estimated values in excess of USD1 million. Meat imports totalled an estimated USD6.7 million (~EUR5 million), with virtually all of this value (>98%) involving trade in three species: Strombus gigas (70%; all wild-sourced); Crocodylus niloticus (15%; all from captive souces); and Anguilla anguilla (13%; all pre-Convention).

The estimated value of carvings (all units) was USD4.7 million. Trade in Corallidae carvings (in kg) accounted for 43% of the value, with an estimated value of USD6675 per kg. Hippopotamus amphibius carvings also accounted for imports worth an estimated USD475 000 (5.6% of the value of all carvings).

Trade in bodies was dominated by imports of pre-Convention Anguilla anguilla, representing 85% of the value of bodies (USD1.9 million). The price for one kg of Anguillidae bodies was estimated at USD19, and there were 96 000 kg of Anguilla anguilla bodies imported.

The trade in tusks to the EU was valued at an estimated USD2.1 million (~EUR1.6 million), and mainly comprised tusks of wild-sourced Monodon monoceros (82%).

The value of medicine imports, amounting to USD1.4 million, was also dominated by one species: Daboia russelii (100% of medicine value; all from captive sources)

4.       Value by EU Annex

Annex B taxa accounted for the majority (85%) of the estimated value of CITES-listed trade into the EU in 2011 (USD565 million or ~EUR425 million)[5].


Proportion of EU value (2011 USD) of 2011 imports of live animals and animals products by EU Annex.


For Annex B taxa, reptiles represented the majority of the value (84%; ~USD472 million), followed by mammals (8%; ~USD44 million) and fish species (6%; ~USD36 million).

Over 86% of the estimated value of Annex C imports to the EU in 2011 was accounted for by trade in Corallidae species, as highlighted above when describing the trade in raw corals. The remainder was primarily derived from trade in Annex C reptile species.

As the US dataset only contained value data for CITES-listed species, the only Annex D taxa with corresponding value data were species that were included Appendix III/Annex D. Therefore, values were available for two species: Mustela sibirica and Homalopsis buccata; these two species combined account for the value in the Annex D specimens.

5.       Value of timber imports

For the majority of plant species, the US dataset did not have any value information that was comparable to the animal value data applied; however, values were available for some term/unit/source combinations for two families: Leguminosae and Meliaceae. Therefore, estimates of the value of EU imports of three key timber species were possible: Dalbergia nigra, Swietenia macrophylla and Cedrela odorata. In total, EU imports of a limited selection of parts and derivatives (carvings for Leguminosae and cubic metres of timber for Meliaceae) for these three species can be estimated at USD756 000 (~EUR569 000) in 2011. Pre-Convention carvings of Dalbergia nigra accounted for 54% of the estimated value of timber products, with wild-sourced sawn wood (in m3) of Swietenia macrophylla and Cedrela odorata comprising 36% and 10%, respectively. However, it should be noted that additional term/unit combinations for these species (and for additional species within the two families) had to be excluded. For example, a value for square metres was not available (only cubic metres had an estimated value), so a value could not be applied to 23 594 m2 of sawn wood of wild-sourced Swietenia macrophylla. Similarly, a value for imports of Pericopsis elata (in the family Leguminosae along with Dalbergia nigra) was not possible from the US dataset as there was no match for the term/unit/source combination (wild-sourced m3 of timber). Other exclusions included pre-Convention powder of Pterocarpus santalinus and a small quantity of veneer of Dalbergia stevensonii.  

Plant parts and derivatives where no suitable price dataset were available through the US price dataset amounted to quantities in excess of 50 million plant parts and derivatives (all terms combined where unit was number of items), as well as over two million kg of plant parts and derivatives and over 30 000 cubic metres of timber and wood derivatives. Six families were imported at levels exceeding one million parts or derivatives (including all terms/units): Amaryllidaceae, Orchidaceae, Cactaceae, Cycadaceae, Primulaceae and Euphorbiaceae. In addition, prices were unavailable for some individual tree species traded at high volumes and known to be relatively high value commodities (e.g. Prunus africana and Pericopsis elata).

In an attempt to fill the gaps, an assessment of available internet price datasets for plant species and timber species, in particular, was conducted. No centralised dataset for global plant price data was found. Similarly, despite the high values fetched by many timber species, comprehensive datasets for CITES-listed timber species (or even timber species in general) were not found. Rather, price data appears to be scattered, with prices for only a few of the main CITES species accessible from any one source. Most often these are timber species or genera that are most commonly traded and high in value (e.g. Pericopsis elata, Swietenia spp., Dalbergia spp.). For those prices that were available, values were found to vary considerably depending on the region, the commodity in trade, the step in the production chain and the quality of the product. Another common difficulty in finding suitable data is that timber trade is often addressed by commodity type – not by species. These factors pose major challenges for identifying and utilising a reliable and comparable price dataset for use with the the CITES trade data.

For example, some data were found from the ITTO Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 2012, but these were patchy in terms of the species covered and varied considerably by country. A sample dataset is provided in Table 4.2. All of these values are lower than the median value for Swietenia spp. estimated on the basis of the US customs value dataset (1856 $/m3).

Sample price dataset for Swietenia spp. for EU importing countries extracted from the ITTO Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation 2012.

[l]Taxon [l]EU Member States [l]2010 price ($/m3) [l]2011 price ($/m3)
[l][i]Swietenia[/i] spp.
(sawn wood)
[l]Estonia [r]1650 [r]240
[l][i]Swietenia[/i] spp.
(sawn wood)
[l]France [r]812 [r]921
[l][i]Swietenia[/i] spp.
(sawn wood)
[l]Malta [r]- [r]1014
[l][i]Swietenia[/i] spp.
(sawn wood)
[l]Netherlands [r]1280 [r]-
[l][i]Pericopsis elata[/i]
(sawn wood)
[l]Malta (sawn wood) [r]1286 [r]751
[l][i]Pericopsis elata[/i]
[l]Malta (logs) [r]115 [r]-


Using price data from the ITTO Annual Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation, the value of P. elata sawn wood imported by the EU in 2011 can be estimated as follows (based on the average of Malta’s 2010 and 2011 price data): 10548 m3 * 1018.5 $/m3 = USD10.7 million (or ~EUR8 million).

These types of ad hoc analyses for individual species provide an idea of the figures involved, but a more comprehensive review is needed to provide a more robust picture of the value of EU imports. It is recommended that a more focused and thorough review be conducted in future.

[1] A preliminary study was undertaken which identified 53 datasets that contained plant price/value data; however, of these, only 13 included one or more CITES-listed species and this did not allow us to derive a standard dataset for the over 2500 plant taxa imported by the EU in 2011.

[2] “Billion” in this report is used to refer to 109

[3] All Euro equivalent values throughout this section are based on an exchange rate of 0.753 EUR to 1 USD from XE.com on 3 August 2013.

[4] When comparisons to 2010 prices are used, these reflect values published in the 2010 EU Analysis of Annual Reports that are based on the same methodology used here, but use the median 2010 USD equivalent value from 2006-2010, as opposed to the 2011 USD value derived from the median of 2007-2011 US price data. Comparisons are provided as indicators of change, but are not directly comparable due to changes in inflation or fluxuations in currency, etc.

[5] Excludes trade in caviar extract.