This year’s autumn holiday season in China, which has historically involved elevated levels of seafood demand, is acting as a harbinger for seafood exporters considering whether to resume shipments to one of the world’s largest importing nations, with most hoping that inconsistent Chinese demand will stabilize in the near future.
“I believe that we are moving good volumes at the moment for the national holiday coming up in China,” Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Canadian Lobster Council, said prior to the holiday season.
Nonetheless, he cautioned that “there is concern about the overall economic situation in China and that is seen through the prices they [Chinese importers] will pay – which are low – but the product continues to move.”
China, the top market for Canadian live lobsters, bought 17.7 million metric tons (MT) of lobsters in the first seven months of 2023, compared to 23.1 million MT all of last year and 26.2 million MT in 2019, prior to Covid-19 affecting the market.
“The market in China doesn’t seem or sound as depressed as I [see] in most Western-based media articles,” Singapore-based seafood trader Wiun Chong Tan said, noting the large attendance of Chinese firms at this year’s Seafood Expo Asia in Singapore.
“Many Chinese companies are very eager to get out; they are aggressively attending exhibitions and making travel plans out of their country to meet their customers or suppliers,” Chong Tan said.
Chinese seafood firms, even amid economic turbulence, are keen to lock up export markets that can help them secure the product needed to corner the convenience market that is taking off in the country, Chong Tan said.
Additionally, a hole in the production market opened after China banned all Japanese seafood products following the release of treated cooling water from the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant. Though this has left a void that both foreign and domestic seafood producers are looking to fill, some export markets to China remain depressed in … 
Photo courtesy of fukoton/Shutterstock

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