The last two decades have seen a shift from China being a key importer and re-exporter of pelagic and shellfish to a major consumer, with seafood consumption per capita growing from 10kg to 30kg (1990-2010).
This shift has been driven by the growth of the Chinese middle class, allowing consumers the purchasing power to widen their protein intake away from staples such as pork.
The rapid growth of the middle and high income consumers has also had a strong impact on consumption of more premium imported fresh and live shellfish, which benefit from the “prestige” factor.
The income elasticity for premium shellfish and pelagic species continues to be high for middle-income Chinese consumer, and thus the premium seafood market remains in its infancy, offering huge scope for growth.
This growth will also be consolidated by increasing levels of urbanization and improvements to China’s undeveloped cold chain logistics.
Targeting the Chinese Market with Premium Irish Shellfish
According to figures by Eurostat (2014), the value of Irish shellfish exports to China (inc HK) experienced substantial growth in 2013, reaching a value of just over €11 million, a 150 per cent increase on 2012.
This growth has been driven by sales of frozen brown crab (€1.4 million), live and fresh clam (€1.1 million) as well as other shellfish, including Dublin Bay Prawns.
The Irish seafood sector continues to build relationships with importers and retailers and, with the support of Bord Bia, is developing an online presence for Irish seafood on China’s booming e-commerce platforms, which is helping to build “awareness” of Ireland as a key producer of quality seafood.