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13 November 2012

China to become largest seafood importer?

By the end of the current decade China may grow into one of the largest seafood consumer markets. According to some analysts, its depth can reach 20 billion dollars.

Even though China still remains the leader in seafood exports, but its imports is beginning to play an important role with volumes growing year by year. Demand for seafood, especially for premium class seafood, is growing faster than for meat since the number of rich consumers who prefer high quality and exquisite seafood is increasing. Living here in Hong Kong, I can see it every day. Due to that many seafood exporting countries increase their seafood exports to China, despite rather specific business conditions in China and Chinese consumer tastes which are also quite specific. Therefore, imports of salmon, scallops, lobster and other seafood could increase significantly by 2020. For example, export of salmon from Europe, which in 2000 virtually did not exist at all, grew to over 12,000 MT by 2011, and I expect it has a great potential for further growth.
And despite the fact that historically the Chinese consumers preferred freshwater fish, now I see the demand shifting to sea fish and premium seafood.
Surely, China will remain one of the largest seafood exporters in the world, but I also suppose that sooner or later volumes of exports drop due to the resources depletion in the country along with an unfavorable situation in Western markets. However, high competitiveness of Chinese fish processing plants due to low labor costs can make the PRC the largest seafood re-exporter. As far as I know, now some South Korean and Japanese fishing companies use processing plants in China to process fish and shellfish caught in their own zones, and then sell the value added product in domestic and international markets.
Thus, I expect that the structure of the fishing industry and seafood consumption in China in the next decade to change significantly, and this can lead to the redistribution of aquatic resources export and import around the world.
Don’t hesitate to leave your comments and share your opinions here on my blog!

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