Agri-Food Trade Service
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This Web site was created 15 years ago as a source of market information and export support activities for Canadian companies. As the web evolves and our interaction with clients intensifies we've decided to take a more active approach in keeping you informed with what we've published recently and to give a sneak peak at what you can look forward to in the coming months in the hopes of giving you a reason to come back and get more involved with our projects.
China's Growing Appetite for Good Seafood
January 17, 2012
The ATS is excited to provide you with another insightful post from industry experts at Web Presence in China. This post provides some great insight on China's growing appetite for quality seafood, which is good news for Canadian seafood exporters! In addition to this post, please visit the ATS report Inside China Seafood Trade. We encourage Canadian companies to contact Web Presence in China with any questions regarding the agri-food market in China, as they are a team of professionals based in Beijing with a Canadian branch facilitating business opportunities with Chinese customers. And, if you missed their previous post, be sure to visit Beef: the Perfect Canadian Entrée for China
Anyone with a minimum of exposure to mainstream media knows about China's growing wealth. Those who visit China quickly learn that long, drawn-out, abundant meals are the preferred way to spend that wealth. Take into account that high-end seafood: salmon, crab, lobster and shrimp, is virtually mandatory at a well-provided table, and you have a scenario for runaway demand; demand that will enrich Canadian seafood industry players savvy enough to broach the challenges of supply.
No question that China is the world's seafood juggernaut, the world's largest importer, exporter, and consumer, representing roughly a third of the global market. However, past models for China's admirable job of supplying much of its domestic consumption are not sustainable. Its aquaculture products are coming under fire for lack of strict health controls, a growing concern in a country rocked by at least one unsafe food scandal per year. Furthermore, external pressure and drastically falling local fish stocks are forcing the government to focus on sustainable sea-fishing practices, which has caused its once booming seafood exports to flat-line at approximately $11.5B per year, primarily fillets and other fish meat.
Meanwhile, China's appetite for seafood once unavailable in the country – lobster, Dungeness crabs, oysters – is driving restaurant profits and causing much excitement in the industry. Sunday crab & lobster brunches are becoming an institution in first-tier cities. Alaskan cod and Canadian salmon are de rigueur at Chinese seafood restaurants. The China Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that by 2020, per capita seafood consumption will have risen from its current 12kg to 36, the same year it will become the world's largest importer. The opportunities in such growth were palpable at this year's China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Qingdao, with 50% more visitors than last year's, from almost 80 countries. “We've been at this for 16 years,” reported Peter Redmayne, the show's co-organizer, “and while Chinese seafood consumption has always been growing, we've never seen anything like this.”
The show also confirmed China's growing preference for high-end seafood products, with booths trading in shrimp, crab, oysters, and lobster saw the most action. Chinese imports of the American lobster, for example, have skyrocketed from under 100 metric tons last year to almost 1,000 this year.
China's high-end seafood mania leaves the Canadian seafood industry with a potential upside, limited only by its willingness to develop the proper channels and procedures for long-term cooperation and growth. After all, Canada's top four most valuable exports by species in 2010 were lobster, salmon, crab, and shrimp. Fortunately, Canada already has a sterling case study in British Columbia's recent seafood delegation to China.
In an effort to sustain BC's 2010 record export volume of $80 million to China, BC's Premier led thirty BC seafood companies and organizations to the Middle Kingdom, first to the Qingdao Seafood Expo, then to BC's sister province, Guangdong, where BC and local seafood industry representatives signed two five-year Memoranda of Understanding to endorse enhanced trade of not just seafood but also other agri-food products, including pork and wine.
Already 12% ahead of last year's volume for 1 January to 31 August, at $87 million, BC exporters are acting on the knowledge that in China, official government recognition of trade is essential to cementing long-term cooperation in the private sector. Such cooperation will not only secure the bottom-lines of BC companies eager to supply China's burgeoning seafood demand, but also create many jobs on Vancouver Island and coastal communities with fishing and processing facilities. The effort has indeed set a precedent that other communities in the country with the world's longest coastline would do well to build on.
Associated industries will also get a boost from continued Canadian efforts to do its part in feeding China's insatiable hunger for quality seafood. For example, this July, China Southern Airlines began a cargo service from Vancouver International Airport, flying four times a week. The new route makes possible increased seafood exportation to China, and has also created over 40 airline and logistics-related jobs in Canada. By all measures, sharing its maritime abundance with China will reap benefits many levels of Canadian society can enjoy.
Until next time,
Joseph Cooke, Director of Global Sales
Web Presence in China, North America Branch
Toll-free phone: 1-888-542-9742
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Dinah // 21-January-2012
"Enjoyed the Blog. I am curious as to whether or not you ever have guest bloggers?"
Reply (ATS Content Manager) // 21-January-2012
"Yes we do use guest bloggers from time to time. Contact us directly with your ideas and we will look for topics might be of interest to our mutual clients."
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