Seafood exports to China are still demanding


Seafood exports to China are still demanding
Ninh Thuan Customs officer (Khanh Hoa Customs Department) guides seafood export procedures for enterprises. Photo: T.H

Exports to China have not fired on all cylinders

On May 9, in completing customs procedures to export frozen shrimp containers to the US market through Ninh Thuan Customs Branch (Khanh Hoa Customs Department), Ms. Chau Thi Bao Ngoc, Import-Export Department, Information Co., Ltd. Thuan (Ninh Thuan) said that seafood exports from the beginning of the year have not recovered, orders dropped sharply by about 40%. In particular, exporting to the Chinese market is still very challenging.

According to information from the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), statistics from China Customs show that the country’s seafood import demand is recovering strongly after opening in early 2023.

However, according to the analysis of Ms. Le Hang, Communications Director of VASEP, Vietnam’s seafood exports to the Chinese market have not yet recovered which resulted from both market factors and internal forces.

In the first quarter of 2023, Vietnam’s seafood exports to the Chinese market still decreased by 27% year on year, reaching nearly 240 million USD. In which, only in February, exports recorded a positive growth of 24%, while in January and March underwent a negative growth of 60% and 39% respectively.

The top 5 seafood products exported to China include pangasius, anchovies, white leg shrimp, black tiger shrimp and surimi. In which, pangasius accounted for the highest volume of 55%.

Therefore, the decrease in pangasius exports to China has affected the general trend, which are followed by the sharp decrease of other export products such as white leg shrimp, fish cakes – surimi. However, dried anchovy products are most wanted in China market with an increase of 50% in the first quarter. Many other dried processed products such as yellow snapper, and dried shrimp have surged strongly. In addition, black tiger shrimp is also recovering its export value to China with an increase of 46% over the same period.

Seafood imports to China are of great demand

With more than 1 million tons of seafood imported in the first quarter of 2023, valued at more than 4.5 billion USD, China’s seafood imports in the first quarter of 2023 increased by 17% in terms of volume and by 13% in terms of value year on year.

In the first month of the year, China’s seafood imports decreased by 27% in volume and 19% in value compared to January 2022 due to the long Tet holidays. From February, imports started to increase sharply by 32% and 20% respectively.

In March 2023, China’s seafood import growth hit the most breathtaking growth with an increase of 58% in volume and 51% in value. In March alone, China imported 453,000 tons of seafood, worth over $1.8 billion.

Frozen seafood products imported from China accounted for 89% in volume and 67% in value, while fresh, live and chilled products accounted for 7% and 28% respectively. Processed products account for only 2%.

China gets more interest in seafood imports for the export processing and processing segment, accounting for 21% in volume and 12% in value. The volume of seafood imports for this activity increased by 70% over the same period last year.

China’s seafood imports for domestic consumption accounted for 65% in volume and 82% in value and increased 16% and 13% year-on-year, respectively.

In terms of volume alone, pollock products with nearly 200,000 tons are most favoured, followed by squid with nearly 94,000 tons. Particularly for pangasius, in the first 3 months of this year, China imported 45,000 tons with an average price of 2.18 USD/kg, down 7% compared to the same period in 2022.

As a matter of fact, the imported demand for domestic consumption has not recovered strongly, along with the devaluation of average import value and competitive pressure from countries such as Ecuador, India, and Indonesia, making Vietnam’s seafood export to China not make a breakthrough in the first quarter of this year.

However, Vietnamese seafood enterprises still long for the vitality of China market as it is predicted that China’s seafood consumption will explode in 2023, with 1.4 billion people liberated from Covid lockdowns and a return to spending on eating out.

What is more, the Chinese have stockpiled between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion in “surplus household savings” during the lockdown, so spending on seafood is expected to plummet in the near term.


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