Peru seeks to drive sales to China

Published on
November 9, 2011

Editor’s note: SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Mark Godfrey attended last week’s China Fisheries & Seafood Expo in Qingdao. Here’s his fourth in a series of reports from the 16th annual event.

Peruvian seafood producers are keen to tap Asian markets with more value-added products, according to a senior government fisheries official. Dried anchovies “could be huge in China,” said Francisco Via Diaz, coordinator of the seafood export section of Peru’s Department of Agriculture & Fish.

Speaking to SeafoodSource, Via Diaz said that shredded sakika has proven very popular in China. “Right now two Peruvian companies are doing dried and shredded squid and sakika shipments and in five years we’ll see more.”

He explained his department’s priority for 2012 is to ship more value-added (such as dry, shredded) product into China, now the top market for Peruvian seafood exports. Via Diaz said Peru would also seek to lift shipments of fishmeal, largely anchovy-based. Peru is China’s top supplier of fishmeal, according to Via Diaz.

Aside from China, Peru is seeking to drive sales of value-added product in Korea and Thailand, explained Via Diaz. “Russia and Japan are already good markets, but it’s difficult to evaluate quantities since much of the trade is processed and re-exported from China,” he said. “Perhaps with more processing capacity in Peru this will change and less will be processed in China for re-export.”

Giant squid, shipped frozen, remains Peru’s fastest growing export category to China, now the leading market for Peruvian seafood. Quantities of squid are growing 10 percent annually while “prices are very good,” said Via Diaz. Shipments of eel and flying fish roe are also growing, he added.

Peru’s “very strong” food-safety and sanitary regime ensures its factories are market leading in quality terms, said Via Diaz. The country’s wild catch is another attraction, he added.

Likewise on giant squid, Chinese customers are willing to pay a premium for quality. Yet increasing competition from Chile is a challenge to Peru’s position as a leader based on quality.

Diaz sees more Peruvian seafood companies opening permanent offices in China — only two currently have done so. While Peru hasn’t the advantage of nearby Chile, which has a free-trade agreement with China, the Andean land is well known among Chinese officials given its abundance of copper, a strategic resource for Beijing.

According to the Exporters Association of Peru (Adex), China was the main buyer of Peru’s non-traditional (typically dried, frozen) seafood products in January-to-August period, importing USD 127 million worth of products, more than double the figure for the same period last year (USD 61.8 million. Peru’s non-traditional fisheries sector exported products worth USD 714.3 million in the first eight months of this year, representing an increase of 71 percent over the same period in 2010. Spain was the second market in terms of purchases, worth USD 106.6 million, followed by the United States.

According to the Peruvian Oceaneering Institute, 70 of some 700 species found off Peru’s coast are commercially exploited. A fortunate confluence of cold and warm currents near the Pacific Ocean port of Paita make Peru a leader in exports of tuna, giant squid, shark and cod. The country also ships Pacific bonito and sardines, as well as frozen Pacific hake.

Click on the headlines to view Godfrey’s three other reports from Qingdao:

China mounts PR offensive in Chile

Indian exporters look past EU to China

Foreign exporters hone in on Chinese tastes

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