China's seafood output to grow in '10
China is expected to produce 51.9 million metric tons of seafood in 2010, which would be up from 50.4 million metric tons this year, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).
However, as a result of the global economic slowdown, the value of China's seafood imports and exports are forecasted to decline for the first time in five years, to USD 12.9 billion (EUR 8.9 billion) this year, which would be down from USD 13.3 billion (EUR 9.2 billion) in 2008, reported the FAS.
The country's seafood exports are expected to amount to USD 9.6 billion (EUR 6.7 billion) in 2009, which would be on par with 2008 and up from USD 8.9 billion (EUR 6.2 billion) in 2007.
Japan remains China's No. 1 seafood export market, followed by the United States, South Korea, Germany and Russia.
The country's expanding export market and growing demand for seafood are fueling the production increase, said the FAS. As the middle class prospers and disposable incomes rise, the Chinese are eating more fish. In 2007, China's per-capita seafood consumption totaled 14 kilograms for urban dwellers, up from 13 kilograms in 2006, and 5.4 kilograms for rural dwellers, up from 5 kilograms.
Much of China's production growth will come from aquaculture, which represented 70 percent of China's total seafood output in 2008, as wild catches level off, said FAS. In 2008, the area dedicated to aquaculture reached 6.5 million hectares, up 14 percent from 2007.
Carp is China's most popular farmed fish. The country yielded 13.5 million metric tons of carp in 2008, up from 12.9 million metric tons in 2007, much of which remains in the Chinese market.
Tilapia production held steady at 1.11 million metric tons in 2008 and is projected to increase slightly in 2009, while catfish production is expected to jump from 224,000 metric tons in 2008 to 250,000 metric tons in 2009. U.S. demand for tilapia and catfish is fueling the production growth, said FAS.