COVID-19 FLARE UP COULD IMPACT SEAFOOD IMPORTS TO CHINA, EXPERTS WARN

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Industry sources have suggested that there may be disruptions to imports of medium and high-end seafood products, as one of the largest seafood markets in China intensifies screening of imported products amid a local flare-up of Covid-19 cases.

Huangsha Aquatic Products Market, the largest in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province, beefed up tracing of frozen and chilled aquatic products over the weekend.

The south China metropolis is facing a flare-up of local COVID-19 cases as dozens of people were found to be hit by mutated virus strains from India.

There may also be a short-term impact on imports of live or frozen fish and shrimps, though sufficient supplies for daily consumption can be ensured with local produce, the sources said. Strict inspections could also exert extra pressure on China’s already declining seafood import, they added.

As a stay-at-home order was issued for residents in several streets, the market tightened up management of cold-chain imports and “strictly implemented tracing, based on the municipal government’s electronic invoices, paper-form registers, and documentation to ensure every batch of products can be traced”.

The Huangsha market has daily transactions weighing about 500 tons, and about 200 tons are shipped via the market to other Chinese cities.

The seafood typically comes from the US, Canada, the UK, and countries in Africa or Southeast Asia, a spokesman for the market said, adding that imports are ordered by tenants in the market in small, multiple batches.

The situation in Huangsha is also causing a ripple effect.

Weng Qiang, a purchasing manager at Sunkfa Holding Group, a Beijing-based seafood company, said that the tightened measures will cause his company to re-route some of its cargoes to new ports of entry for customs clearance.

Weng said: “In the near term, the impact on frozen fish will be limited due to the long delivery cycle for such products, but live and frozen products will see shipments decline.”

In 2020, China imported €10.4 billion worth of seafood, down 20% year-on-year, customs data showed. In the second half, the pandemic caused imports to contract by 31%.

Meanwhile, Japanese seafood firms have been urged to employ strategies where sustainability and financial profitability are linked in order to counteract downward industry trends and avoid both environmental and financial failure. 

A new seafood industry report, Against The Tide, claims that Japan’s seafood industry is facing a major challenge.

Report lead author Francois Mosnier said: “Seafood stocks, supply and demand in Japan have all seen a drop, yet between 2010 and 2019, the seafood companies we researched in this report have all reported rising profits and share prices.

“This is due to the employment of various strategies by companies’ management, but most strategies that these firms have employed to avoid financial issues coming to the surface so far have more or less run their course.”

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