India raising its image in Japan

Published on
February 19, 2012

Editor’s note: SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Chris Loew attended last week’s Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo. This is his first in a series of stories from the ninth annual event. 

The ninth annual Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo was held on 14 to 15 February at ACT Hall in Osaka together with the Agrifood Expo, a showcase for regional specialty foods.

India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) participated with a booth, and it seems that its main goal here was to get rid of any impression that Indian standards are not up to Japan’s standards. 

Assistant Director K. Sasidharan Nair presented on “Indian Seafood Industry — Hygiene Management & Export” last Tuesday. The speech included an overview of Indian seafood, hygiene and control measures, systems for exports to the European Union and trade with Japan.

Indian exports have risen dramatically, from USD 1.416 billion in 2000-01 to nearly 2.857 billion in 2010-11. India’s biggest export market are, in order, the EU, United States, Japan, China and Southeast Asia. India’s 432 export processing establishments can process more than 165,000 metric tons of seafood. Of these, 237 are approved for export to the EU. Including approved cold storage establishments raises the number to 268, with 100 in the state of Kerala, where Kochi is a major port. 

The hazard analysis and critical control points (HAACP) system is mandatory for all seafood export processing establishments, and a compliance audit is done prior to approval. MPEDA carries out HAACP training based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration curriculum. The training also covers Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs).

The largest export item by value is shrimp. While the EU is the largest market, India is only the fifth largest shrimp supplier to Europe. But in Japan, India is the top supplier. Shrimp accounts for 72 percent of the country’s exports to Japan by value in U.S. dollars. 

Nair said the MPEDA has introduced a logo to promote the prime quality of Indian seafood. A long-term goal of the organization is to raise the quality image of Indian seafood through co-branding with major labels, as in its black tiger co-branding in the United States with Houston-based Sysco Corp, the country’s largest foodservice distributor. This will help India to move away from bulk sales and gain consumer acceptance for retail packed items.

India desires technical collaboration with Japan in processing value-added shrimp. The Fishing Boat and System Engineering Association, whose members design fish handling, processing and refrigeration systems on Japanese vessels, was supporting India’s booth activities. Toshiyuki Okano, the association’s chief coordinator, said there’s a project under way with the MPEDA to further raise the sanitary quality of India’s seafood for the Japanese market. 

The MPEDA is a sponsor of the India International Seafood Show to be held on 29 February to 2 March in Chennai.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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