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Shanghai: China’s seafood gateway

Shanghai. Home to more than 24 million people, it’s the world’s largest city – and has the appetite to match. For seafood exporters, the city is a golden gateway, opening up a huge, hungry market to internationally-sourced produce.

Shanghai’s seafood import levels soar

According to newspaper Laodong Daily, the Shanghai Fisheries Trade Association (SFTA) said in 2017 that the amount of imported seafood has been growing continuously for three years. January-April 2016 saw China’s biggest metropolis import 34,000 tons of seafood – a 34.7% increase against 2015’s figures.

Across the first three quarters of 2016, a total of 72,000 tons of marine products, including both fresh and seawater species, was imported by Shanghai. Again, this is an increase against 2015's figures, in the region of 20.9%.

Let’s look at some specifics. Data from the SFTA reveals there has been a significant spike in imports of freshwater fish. Trading volumes of these products, which covers species like oysters, crayfish, prawns, shrimp, sturgeons, and lampreys, skyrocketed 144% in 2016 - making up 13,000 tons of the total freshwater/seafood import mix.

Trading volumes of South American white shrimp, giant freshwater shrimp, and other freshwater species hit 708 tons during the above period; a slim increase, to be sure, but a welcome one. Shrimp is quickly becoming a favourite of Chinese consumers, so expect to see demand ramp up as Shanghai’s already monumental population expands further.

Like most foodstuffs, seasonality plays a role in how much seafood Shanghai imports annually. During Chinese New Year, which takes place in February, imports of high/added value seafood increase significantly.

The Shanghai Fisheries Trade Association reported that, during 2017’s 10-day Lunar New Year holiday, two aquatic markets - Shanghai Jiangyang Agricultural Products Market and Shanghai Linghai International Agricultural Products Trade Centre - sold 86.9 tons of Australian, Boston and Cuban lobster. Linghai traded 17.75 tons of emperor and treasure crab. Jiangyang sold 68.5 tons of oysters alongside 80 tons of abalone.
Throughout this Lunar Festival, eight further local aquatic wholesale markets, including the Longmen Food Company, imported 31,562 tons of seafood. Compared with 2016’s levels, volumes increased by 9,808 tons – showing Shanghai’s rising hunger for top quality ocean-sourced food.

There are hundreds of wet and dry seafood markets in Shanghai, with the largest, situated in Anting Town, selling 70% of the city’s fish annually.

Shanghai leads Chinese seafood consumption

While seafood is being bought and eaten in higher quantities across China, it is the coastal regions that are eating the most. Shanghai sits smack in the middle of China’s eastern seaboard, so it is one of China’s major seafood gateways, boosting seafood consumption amongst its many millions of inhabitants.

By 2020, it is estimated your average Chinese person will eat around 35.9kg of fish and seafood each year. In major urban centres, this figure is substantially higher. You do not get more major than Shanghai, where its populace already consumes 40kg or more of seafood a year.

What’s more, Shanghai’s citizens have deeper pockets than their fellow countrymen – thus have more money to spend on higher-end seafood products. Average wages in China are set to hit $10,700 by the end of 2017. Shanghai has reached this point already.

What does this mean for exporters? It means that products seen as a touch more luxurious, such as salmon, which is gaining huge traction in China, are within reach of the common consumer. The scope to ship a higher tonnage of seafood to China reveals itself, in light of Shanghai’s impressive purchasing power.

A portal to China’s $20 billion seafood market

China outstrips the rest of the world when it comes to seafood consumption. Some 35% of all fish and seafood consumed worldwide is done so in China. Shanghai, with its coastal location, makes it the entry point produce to reach several provinces and hundreds of millions of consumers.

Shanghai proper is home to over 24 million people; exceeding 34 million if include the suburbs. The city’s urban area is skirted by three provinces, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang, which collectively hold a population of 194.4 million people. Via Shanghai, exporters' products have a chance to reach well over 228 million people – a group that accounts for a substantial slice of China’s $20 billion seafood market.

Discover the city’s huge market at World Seafood (SIFSE) Shanghai

For exporters looking to make headway into China, Shanghai should be your number one destination – and there is only one place to meet the city’s biggest seafood buyers, distributors and importers: World Seafood Shanghai (SIFSE).

Held at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre between 19-21 August, the event is a specialised fish and seafood exhibition aimed at meeting local demand and closing supply gaps.
Want to grow your leads in the world’s biggest city, and foremost seafood market? Contact us today to book your slot, or to discuss how you can take part in World Seafood (SIFSE) 2017.


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