Argentina looks to China to cover low European demand
Argentinean seafood producers are looking to China to pick up the slack of a weaker EU market. A giant Argentinean presence at the ongoing Asia Seafood Exposition in Hong Kong is a signal of the country’s intent to expand sales in China, according to Nadia Venticinque, an official at Proargex, an export promotions body attached to the country’s agricultural ministry.
A record eight Argentine firms — among them key players like Conarpesa Continental Armadores de Pesca SA and Puelchana Patagonia SA — are keen to sign up mainland Chinese importers at the ongoing trade show in Hong Kong in order to account for weaker EU sales, explained Venticinque.
“It’s not that the Europeans aren’t buying, it’s that they’re buying in smaller quantities and we don’t want to get stuck with lots of product which we can’t sell,” said Venticinque.
Argentina is expecting a bumper wild catch in 2013, she added.
Prawn, king crab, squid and trout are all on the Argentine sales list in Hong Kong. Argentine firms are also keen to find Chinese buyers for oysters. As a follow-up on its presence at ASE this week, the Argentinean trade promotion agency will have a 72 square meter pavilion at this November’s seafood fair in Dalian.
“That’s compared to 18 square meters last year,” said Venticinque, who will accompany a dozen Argentine firms to Dalian.
While only a minor supplier of seafood in China, Buenos Aires has scored notable successes in lifting its agricultural exports to China, overcoming Chinese concerns over genetically modified crops to become a key supplier of surging Chinese demand for corn and soybeans. The experience of negotiating with Beijing will likely help in opening doors for seafood shipments, given China’s bureaucratic quarantine and sanitary regimes. Argentina is hoping to also build sales in Korean and Singapore, said Venticinque.
“We have to find alternatives as the buying power isn’t there in Europe right now,” she said.
Argentina’s fish and shellfish exports dropped in 2012 by 13 percent to 368,915 metric tons — USD 1.18 billion (EUR 895.6 million) in value (down 13.3 percent year-on-year) — according to statistics from the National Service of Health and Agrifood Quality (SENASA). The drop has been blamed on weaker demand in top markets Spain and Brazil.