China crustacean demand strong, Norway struggling for access

Russia is getting a bigger bang for its imports into China, while Norway continues to struggle for access to the market, according to figures for 2013 published by one of China’s leading fisheries hubs.

Demand for crustaceans is outpacing imports of all other categories, according to customs authorities in Dalian, the city on China’s east coast that funnels huge amounts of its imports for processors and for domestic consumption. Overall imports rose 13.7 percent in volume and 8.5 percent in value to 905,800 metric tons (MT) worth USD 1.39 billion (EUR 1.02 billion). Formerly Russian-ruled, Dalian is the largest city and key port in Liaoning province, which borders North Korea.

Russia was the top supplier of seafood into Dalian port (the data also includes small volumes handled by Dandong port, also in Liaoning) last year, selling 426,000 MT worth USD 527 million (EUR 387.1 million): that’s an increase of 23.7 percent and 19 percent respectively, suggesting an upgrade in pricing and product variety from Russia. Dalian’s sixth-largest supplier, Norway, was the big loser, with 31,500 MT of aquatic products imported worth USD 55 million (EUR 40.4 million) dropping 16.7 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively. This suggests the fallout over the Nobel peace prize continues to hurt Norwegian shipments, though it’s also worth noting that Norwegian imports have been diverted to alternative freight airports in China to supply regional cities (the Dalian data includes port and airport cargo).

Broken down, the data imports were dominated by frozen fish: 765,800 MT worth USD 1.062 billion (EUR 780 million), an increase of 20.2 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. Imports of crustaceans grew strongest, totaling 20,200 MT worth USD 103 million (EUR 75.6 million) up a whopping 24.7 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively. Imports of processed products stood at 53,900 MT, down 22.9 percent year-on-year but up 1.9 percent in value to USD 106 million (EUR 77.8 million). Imports of mollusks at 55,100 tons (for USD 101 million, EUR 74.2 million) fell 14.8 percent year-on-year in volume terms, while value remained flat.

Higher quantities of lower value fish meanwhile appear to be impacting figures for second-placed U.S. that shipped 217,500 MT of aquatic products worth USD 387 million (EUR 284 million) into Dalian in 2013: up 13.9 percent and down 0.3 percent respectively. By contrast fifth-placed Canada shipped 21,700 MT worth USD 67 million (EUR 49.2 million) up 23.3 percent and 3.1 percent. In third place meanwhile imports from Japan totaled 72,600 MT worth USD 98 million (EUR 72 million) up a massive 50.3 percent and 53.1 percent, respectively.

Bonded warehouses booked 90,600 MT of aquatic products for re-export — an increase of 5.4 percent. But in value, USD 118 million (EUR 86.6 million) represents a decrease of 19.2 percent, suggesting an increased use of lower value species (under-declaration by Chinese importers is a common problem but fish for processing and re-export is tax free).


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