China's Seafood Exports to Japan Slide


Keith and Eva, reporting for SeafoodSource from Guangdong and Guangxi provinces

Published on
April 7, 2008

China's seafood exports to Japan are sliding as continuing health scares damage the industry's reputation.

But the country's freezing weather in February, the worst in 60 years, and the increasing value of its currency, the renminbi, are also blamed for a 30 percent fall in China's exports to Japan that month. Figures recently released by the Web site show the volume of exports from China to Japan from January to February fell to 35,000 metric tons, the poorest trading performance in six years.

Japan's Aquatic Products Trading Association says that the overall volume of China's seafood exports between January 2007 and January 2008 fell 4.1 percent to 722,000 metric tons worth $2.94 billion.

Japan accounts for nearly one-third of China's seafood exports by weight.

Other export markets have also been hit, with volumes to South Korea also falling. The figures released last week follow another food scare that broke out last month when 100,000 Chinese frozen roasted eels exported to Japan were found to contain malachite green, a fungicide.

In the first two months of 2008, Japan's imports of live eels from China totaled 6,318 metric tons, down 16 percent from the same two months in 2007. Roasted eel exports to Japan fell 60 percent in the same two months.

Earlier scares this year included poisoned shrimp dumplings in January laced with insecticide.

Itohiroyasi, CEO of Tsukiji Fish Market, the world's largest seafood trading market in Tokyo, says, "We import seafood from other countries to cater for our customers. If the Chinese want their aquatic [products] back on the market, they need to provide safe food."

The market for shrimp has also been hit, he says, with most supermarkets and big restaurants buying shrimp from Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar to replace Chinese aquatic products. China's shrimp exports in 2007 fell 12 percent to 215,000 metric tons.

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