Bad news for Chinese seafood so far in 2015

Published on
August 11, 2015

Values for China’s imported seafood took a dive in the first half of 2015, and reports indicate seafood prices in the domestic markets dropped in the same period, too.

China produced 27 million metric tons (MT) of seafood in the first half of this year, up 3.2 percent on the same period last year. Of that figure 21.1 million MT came from aquaculture, up 4.1 percent year on year while domestic fishing contributed 5.8 million MT, down 0.03 percent. Chinese fishing fleets on the high seas caught 1.1 million MT, up 16 percent according to the data, which was published by the fisheries bureau of China’s agriculture ministry.

There was a sharp drop in import values: China imported 1.9 million MT of seafood in the first six months, down 14.8 percent on the same period last year. Imports dropped 9.6 percent in value terms to USD 4.1 billion (EUR 3.8 billion). Exports at 1.9 million MT were up 1.5 percent and in value terms rose 2.4 percent to USD 9.6 billion (EUR 8.8 billion).

It’s worth noting however that the import figures were pulled down by weak fish feed data: China’s imports of feed fell 43 percent in volume terms and 20.8 percent in value terms according to the ministry of agriculture data.

China’s domestic sales of seafood meanwhile were sluggish. Market volume was up 7.3 percent but turnover fell 1.9 percent, suggesting that while more seafood was sold in the domestic market, prices slipped backwards. A ranking of prices based on a survey of 49 species sold in wholesale markets nationwide showed average prices fell nearly 1 percent, with saltwater prices down 0.2 percent and prices for freshwater products down 1.9 percent on the same period last year.

China’s seafood export growth continues to be concentrated on developing markets – in particular the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which bought 31.2 percent more Chinese seafood in the first half of this year compared to last year, though no absolute figures are given in the ministry’s data. By contrast exports to the United States fell 2.5 percent while exports to the EU dropped 5 percent and shipments to Japan were down 1.4 percent on the same period last year.

China’s total output of seafood in 2014 totaled 64.5 million MT, up 4.5 percent over the previous year. The figure is the same as the growth figure reported for 2013 when China’s aquatic products totaled over 61.7 million MT, an increase of 4.5 percent year on year. Of the total figure of 64.5 million MT for 2014, aquaculture production at 47.62 million MT was up 4.9 percent while fisheries (domestic wild catch) at 16.88 million MT rose by 3.5 percent.

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