China’s seafood prices moderate in March

Published on
April 24, 2014

China’s seafood prices and consumption were in positive territory in March, but more modest economic growth appears to be tempering growth in both figures. That's according to data from China’s agricultural ministry, based on a survey of 80 wholesale markets that showed that in March average seafood (including freshwater products) prices grew 4.5 percent year-on-year to CNY 22.03 (USD 3.53, EUR 2.56) per kilogram (kg) but the figure was down 2.23 percent month-on-month.

The average price for seafood products rose 4.79 percent year-on-year to CNY 40.46 (USD 6.48, EUR 4.69) per kg while dropping 3.38 percent compared to February prices. Average prices for freshwater products meanwhile averaged CNY 15.06 (USD 2.41, EUR 1.75) per kg, up 4.16 percent year-on-year but down 0.7 percent month-on-month. The ministry’s survey of 47 comparable seafood items, output at 649,000 metric tons in March was up 4.16 percent year-on-year while turnover of seafood producers totaled CNY 14.02 billion (USD 2.25 billion, EUR 1.63 billion), up 12.03 percent year-on-year.
There was good news for cultivators and vendors of crustaceans: average prices for seawater crustaceans rose 1.15 percent compared to last year with prices for freshwater crustaceans up 2.25 percent on last year — a sign that demand remains strong for domestic freshwater crabs, a heavily promoted local product category.  
Among the 49 products surveyed for prices only 15 of them (accounting for 30 percent of overall production) saw a price rise in March, among them mantis shrimp which rose 6.46 percent to CNY 63.1 (USD 10.11, EUR 7.32) per kg as well as steelhead fish, up 5.8 percent up CNY 35.91 (USD 5.75, EUR 4.16) per kg and freshwater crab, up 3.56 percent to CNY 125.18 (USD 20.06, EUR 14.52) per kg.
The bulk of products surveyed (45 percent of overall output) saw a price decline, with a month on month drop of 13.4 percent for yellow croaker (average CNY 66.35 (USD 10.62, EUR 7.69) per kg) and hairtail (down 9.9 percent to an average CNY 25.90 (USD 4.14, EUR 3) per kg) and pomfret (down 9.8 percent to CNY 100.67 (USD 16.12, EUR 11.66) per kg).  
Much has been made of China’s GDP growth slowing, with a first quarter growth figure of 7.4 percent falling slightly below the Chinese government’s full-year target of 7.5 percent, itself a reduction on last year’s target of 8 percent. A sign of possible long-term source of weaker demand for high end seafood: China’s restaurant industry grew 9 percent, to CNY 2.56 trillion (USD 411 billion, EUR 298 million), last year, its slowest growth in more than two decades, according to data newly released by the China Cuisine Association.

“This is a sign that the central government’s antigraft campaign against waste and extravagance has been well implemented,” Feng Enyuan, deputy chairman of the CCA told local media. Midrange and high-end restaurants have been particularly hard hit, according to Feng. President Xi Jinping has pursued a campaign to reduce the so-called three “public consumptions” indulged in by China’s civil servants: overseas work trips, government-use of vehicles and official receptions.

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