China Seafood Imports Rise
China's seafood imports rose 13.5 percent in the first nine months of 2008, buoyed by more adventurous consumers with greater spending power.
While the country's exporters may be suffering from the appreciating domestic currency, it is encouraging the growing middle classes to try a wider range of produce from overseas.
Figures published this week on the China fishery Web site, www.csh.gov.cn, show that imports in the first three quarters of this year reached $4.16 billion, up 13.5 percent from the same period in 2007, to a total volume of 3 million tons. China seafood imports rose by more than 50 percent to 1.07 million tons, including cod, plaice and salmon, by 32 percent to 820,000 tons.
Russia led the import rise, followed by Peru, where China this week signed a Free Trade Agreement with the country following a meeting of Asian Pacific nations. The United States, Chile, Eastern Europe and the European Union also saw their seafood exports to China increase.
China's growing middle class in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen has yet to be badly affected by the global credit crunch and is growing more adventurous in its appetite for foreign or more exotic foods.
Increasing costs of production in China has also raised prices of home-produced seafood sharply with prices for shellfish rising by 38 percent, with scallops in Shandong province selling for 50 cents per kilogram, twice the Chinese average. And the price of tilapia increased by 35 percent between January and September, to $8.10 per kilogram.