Chinese seafood exporters seeking new markets on Japan tensions
By Mark Godfrey, SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from Beijing, China
Published on 03 February, 2014
Faced with sluggish Western markets and ongoing tension between China and Japan, the key processing belt of Liaoning is making a play for new emerging markets — and the ploy appears to be paying off, judging by just-announced export results for 2013. Exports from Liaoning, a northeasterly province which includes the port city of Dalian (and ranks among China’s three leading seafood exporting regions) lifted the volume and value of its exports by 11.2 percent and 8.1 percent respectively, to 1.6 million metric tons (MT) valued at USD 3.9 billion (EUR 2.9 billion).
Data provided to SeafoodSource from the provincial fisheries bureau under the agricultural ministry shows the bulk of Liaoning seafood exports in 2013 went to Asia: 275,000 MT however slipped 2 percent in volume but rose 6.4 percent in value to USD 1.1 billion (EUR 814 million). The slip in volume was impacted by a falloff in shipments to Japan, still the biggest market for Liaoning seafood exporters: it imported 142,100 MT (down 3.1 percent year-on-year) in 2013, worth USD 643 million (EUR 476 million) (down 0.6 percent on 2012).
By contrast, there was significant growth in shipments to Africa, Latin America and Russia. Meanwhile, Poland (and Russia) ranks among the top nine export destinations for Liaoning seafood exports. Massive growth in volumes to Africa is being driven by demand in Nigeria: it imported 53,900 MT in 2013, of an African total of 61,300 MT (up 112 percent on 2012). Product being shipped to Africa is clearly low value, worth USD 40 million (EUR 29.6 million), a year-on-year rise of 78.6 percent.
Latin America bought 80,100 tons of Liaoning seafood in 2013 for USD 220 million (EUR 163 million), up 15 percent and 17.3 percent respectively — the bulk of that went to Brazil. Canada and the U.S. accounted for 129,300 MT worth USD 608 million (EUR 449.8 million), up 2.9 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.
North America and Japan remain key buyers but negative and slow growth in shipments to those regions is clearly prompting Chinese seafood producers to look elsewhere. Imports of seafood into the region meanwhile grew slightly stronger than exports, totaling 905,000 MT, worth USD 1.39 billion (EUR 1.03 billion) — up 13.7 percent and 8.5 percent respectively year-on-year.
In a note to aquaculture producers and seafood processors, the Liaoning fisheries department promised to aid the development of exports through an increase in subsidies to producers as well as the establishment of more “demonstration areas” showcasing modern seafood production. The department also predicted “increased difficulties” for local seafood exports due to China’s ongoing tensions with Japan over territorial disputes, as well as a stronger CNY and growing competition from other nations emerging as aquaculture players.