China wholesale prices outpace volume in 1H

Published on
July 31, 2014

Growth in prices for seafood in China is outpacing growth in supply, suggests data for the first half of the year. Data for 47 seafood products released by the fisheries department at the China agricultural ministry shows total sales volume of 3.59 million MT, up 2.92 percent year on year while sales revenue of RMB 78.7 billion (USD 12.7 billion, EUR 9.5 billion) represents an increase of 9.29 percent.

Chinese buyers continue to pay a significant premium for salt-water product, the ministry’s survey of 80 seafood wholesale markets shows an average price of RMB 22.40/kg (USD 3.63, EUR 2.71), up 3.7 percent year on year. The average price for marine products at RMB 41.52/kg (USD 6.72, EUR 5.02) was up 4.16 percent while average prices for freshwater product at RMB 15.09/kg (USD 2.44, EUR 1.83), was up 3.18 percent compared to the same period last year.

While the data shows the pricing power and prestige of products caught or cultivated from the sea among Chinese consumers it also suggests marine product prices have been more volatile, rising in the run up to key festivals like Chinese New Year, when corporates and families splash out on sea products like crab, grouper, sea cucumber and wild shrimp. In January and February prices rose 9.48 percent and 3.73 percent, respectively, month on month. In March and April prices were down 3.38 percent and 2.34 percent (month on month), respectively. Prices were up in May (helped no doubt by the annual May Day holiday) and June (during which the Dragon Boat festival fell) rising 1.0 percent and 2.65 percent (month on month) respectively.

Prices for freshwater products by contrast appeared more stable, rising 0.82 percent and 3.68 percent in January and February respectively month on month — in line with Chinese New Year demand. March and April prices were slightly down 0.77 percen and 0.38 percent month on month, respectively. Prices in May and June rose again by 2.14 percent and 0.16 percent respectively, month on month. Of 18 species of freshwater species monitored prices rose for seven varieties, with prices for four varieties up more than 10 percent. Only four freshwater varieties surveyed saw price drops with only steelhead (rainbow trout) falling by more than 10 percent.

As for shrimp, vannamei prices in February hit RMB 95.25/kg (USD 15.43, EUR 11.53), up 18.6 percent month on month, and 21.5 percent year on year. Prices had softened in June to RMB 73.21/kg (USD 11.85, EUR 8.86), representing a decrease of 21.1 percent on February prices. The price drop has been blamed on a surge in supply as farmers, worried about a repeat of the disease outbreak of last year, rushed to market. But these are smaller-sized shrimp and paler in color, noted the report from the agricultural ministry, which suggests that supply may tighten in August and September, pushing prices upwards.

Abalone prices meanwhile continue to fall due to a curb on official funds for fine dining while the ministry credits increasingly sophisticated local cultivation technology for allowing shorter abalone breeding growth cycles, and thus a significant increase in domestic supply of abalone.

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