According to a recent report released by the United States Department of Agricultural Foreign Agricultural Service, processing trade accounts for over 40 percent of China’s aquatic production export value as a result of successful value-added processing of U.S. and other foreign seafood in China due to its abundance of cheap labor and higher recovery rates.
U.S. origin seafood is for the large part being re-exported back to the United States for domestic consumption. Most Chinese consumers prefer live or fresh fish over processed frozen fish. Furthermore, most Chinese cannot afford the approximate 10 percent of American seafood that does stay in China consisting of varieties served at high-end restaurants and hotels.
U.S. seafood companies and exporters can learn about the potential market opportunities for U.S. seafood in China by evaluating some of the points mentioned in this report. At first glance, overall trade figures for U.S. seafood exports to China, suggest that there is a strong consumer demand for U.S. seafood products in the Chinese domestic market. However, after examining the Chinese seafood market in greater depth, it becomes apparent that U.S. seafood is currently relegated to reprocessing factories in North China for re-export or local clientele with high incomes. U.S. seafood is not consumed at the rates which initial figures suggest. Introduction
China is the world’s largest aquaculture producer. China’s dominance in this sector is largely attributed to the country’s rapid economic growth, rising disposable incomes, and strong exporting industry supported by increasing global consumption of aquatic products. China’s aquaculture industry is expected to reach $5 billion in profits by 2009 due in part to its extensive processing and export-oriented segments. Although domestic consumption of aquatic products is growing, the processing sector is mainly export driven, as domestic consumers generally prefer to consume unprocessed, fresh or live fishery and seafood products.
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