Tra­di­tional traders send out mixed sig­nals

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By LUOWEITENG in Hong Kong sophia@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Mid­dle class shop­pers in China are show­ing a grow­ing ap­petite for seafood prod­ucts and a pas­sion for im­ported del­i­ca­cies as they prop up an in­dus­try go­ing through tur­bu­lent times.

Data re­leased in Au­gust by the Min­istry of Com­merce showed that China im­ported seafood and fish prod­ucts worth $3.52 bil­lion dur­ing the first seven months of this year, down 5.12 per­cent from the same pe­riod of 2014.

Aquatic ex­ports reached $10.66 bil­lion dur­ing the same pe­riod, a year-on-year drop of 4.7 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms.

Against that back­drop, lead­ing busi­nesses in the tra­di­tional seafood sec­tor are hav­ing to work hard to re­tain their mar­ket share.

At the Seafood Expo Asia 2015 event, which was or­ga­nized by Diver­si­fied Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ear­lier this month in Hong Kong, opin­ions were mixed about state of the in­dus­try.

Cooke Aqua­cul­ture, the world’s largest in­de­pen­dent, fully in­te­grated salmon farm­ing com­pany based in Canada, was bullish about the Chi­nese sec­tor.

Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor An­drew Lively pointed to the ris­ing sales in up­mar­ket seafood prod­ucts, fu­eled by mid­dle class con­sumers.

“We be­lieve this trend will con­tinue into the fore­see­able

the fu­ture,” Lively said.

But there are chal­lenges ahead. China’s econ­omy is slow­ing, while the de­pre­ci­a­tion of the yuan since Au­gust by as much as 3 per­cent has in­creased the price of ex­pen­sive im­ports, such as seafood prod­ucts.

D&D Seafood Cor­po­ra­tion, a lob­ster ex­porter based in the United States, has had to ad­just to the new eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment. The com­pany has been in China Dopico said. “But for for­eign seafood ex­porters like us, this was a piece of good news.

“We can move back from a ‘cor­rupted mar­ket’ to a re­al­is­tic mar­ket and get a bet­ter idea of real prices in­stead of ar­ti­fi­cially high ones.”

Other com­pa­nies also felt the pinch.

Zoneco Group, a Chi­nese whole­sale com­pany based in Dalian, and spe­cial­iz­ing in scal­lops, sea cu­cum­bers and abalone, has re­ported a 30 per­cent drop in busi­ness this year com­pared to 2014.

Do­mes­tic sales ac­count for 70 per­cent of the firm’s rev­enue.

“Not only are do­mes­tic sales shrink­ing, but prices are go­ing down,” Jackie Yin Youchun, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Zoneco, said at the Expo in Hong Kong.

“We are forced to shift our fo­cus to the mid­dle-end mar­ket as well as roll out some cheaper prod­ucts for the mass mar­ket.”

To add to the com­pany’s prob­lems, the over­seas mar­ket in scal­lops is stag­nat­ing,

have

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