- June 4, 2018
- Posted in International
China’s top seafood industry association reckons China’s shrimp imports were worth $3.6 billion in 2017, but forecasts slower import growth in 2018.
Imported volumes amounted to approximately 400,000 metric tons of shrimp, an increase of 12% compared with the year prior, according to the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA).
Of China’s imports, about 360,000t was imported through the ‘grey trade’ with Vietnam, Cui He, president of CAPPMA, said at the Global Aquaculture Summit in Fuzhou.
Although just a ballpark figure, he said, in 2017, “most of imports of shrimp to Vietnam were re-exported to China”. He estimates 320,000t is shrimp imported by Vietnam then re-exported to China, with the rest farmed in Vietnam itself.
Cui reckons with the clampdown on smuggling and lower tariffs, China will in future import more shrimp through official channels; three large anti-smuggling operationshave taken place so far in 2018 to stem the flow, during which “a lot of criminals were arrested”, said Cui.
Undercurrent News was first to report the huge scale of smuggling of shrimp into China from Vietnam, estimating 270,000t was smuggled in 2016. During his talk Cui also referred to an Undercurrent graph of Vietnam’s total seafood imports in 2016, which can be viewed here.
Remarking on the growth of shrimp imports, Cui said it is “worthy of our attention”.
“Ten years ago China was the biggest exporter. After ten years, China remains the largest producer, but now it’s the second largest importer after the US. It is remarkable,” he said.
However, this year Cui reckons Chinese shrimp demand growth will slow this year, a view shared by industry sources in the country, who recently told Undercurrent shrimp inventories remain high. Cui also pointed to the popularity of another crustacean, crayfish, as being partly behind this.
“Consumption remains quite stable however if you look at the inland provinces, shrimp have been replaced by crayfish,” said Cui, noting that in May and June — the peak in Chinese crayfish production — “only a few consumers will buy shrimp”. Recently, Undercurrent News reported the popularity of crayfish in China has caused problems for European importers, due to rising prices.
According to Cui, China produced a massive 1.08 million metric tons of crayfish in 2016.
Chinese shrimp production lower
Cui said that China produced 1.2m metric tons of shrimp in 2017, down 6.3% compared with 2016. This comprised 500,000t of freshwater shrimp and 700,000t of marine water shrimp.
Another 100,000t of Chinese shrimp production is wild-caught, he said.
He said effective disease control is “still lacking”, although farming methods in north China, where there has been an increase in ‘comprehensive farming’, has helped “increase production efficiency”, he said. Nowadays, most production is consumed domestically, in any case.
“I cannot see a driver for growth of exports,” he said.
Cui’s shrimp production figures are considered somewhat on the high side, however, with other industry players estimating Chinese production is closer to 600,000t.
Cui only made a brief comment on current low market prices, noting they “won’t persist”, forecasting that US purchases would pick up after the third quarter, as well as Chinese purchases, in time for the holiday season. “That will be the best time,” he said.