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Industry news

China’s seafood production, consumption continue to grow


By Mark Godfrey

China’s seafood production will total 65.7 million metric tons (MT) in 2021, and will increase to 66.1 million MT in 2022, according to a Chinese research consultancy.

China’s overall seafood output rose from 64.5 million MT in 2017 to 65.4 million MT in 2020, according to Zhong Shang Chan Ye Research Agency, which also trades as China Commerce and Industry Research and Ask CI Consulting.

The Shenzhen-based research firm is projecting the country’s total seafood output from sea-water production – both wild catches and marine aquaculture – will shrink from 33.1 MT in 2020 to 33 million MT in 2021 and further, to 32.9 million MT, in 2022. In 2020, 11.7 million MT of seafood produced in China was “natural” or wild-caught from the sea, accounting for 35.6 percent of China’s sea-water output.

China’s overal aquaculture output (both salt-water and fresh-water) will continue to increase, according to Ask CI. After a 3 percent increase in China’s aquaculture output in 2020 to 52.1 million MT, the consultancy projects China’s total aquaculture production will hit 52.2 million MT in 2021 and reach 52.7 million MT in 2022.

Shellfish make up 70 percent of China’s overall marine aquaculture output by volume, at 14.3 million MT, or 70 percent of output, with seaweed and algae production adding up to 12 percent of seawater output, at 2.5 million MT. Of freshwater aquaculture output, fish products constituted 25.4 million MT, or 83 percent of output. Crustaceans made up 13 percent of total production.

China’s seafood-processing sector also saw increased production between 2017 and 2020, as output went from 22 million MT to 22.3 million MT. Yet processed output accounted for only 34 percent of overall seafood output in 2020 – a fact noted in Chinese government documents encouraging the sector to increase its value-added activity. Ask CI projected China processed seafood output will hit 22.7 million MT in 2021, climbing to 23 million MT in 2022.

Canned goods continue to remain a minor category in Chinese seafood processing and sales, despitthe expansion of several tuna canneries in Ningbo and Zhoushan in recent years. In 2019, frozen processed goods made up 71 percent of output in the Chinese seafood-processing sector. Meanwhile even though the dried seafood category is showing signs of growing – dried squid snacks have become increasingly popular – dried seafood accounted for only 7 percent of processed output in 2019.

On the consumption side, local sales of seafood have gone from 65 million MT in 2017 to 68.5 million MT in 2020, growing 5.1 percent year-on-year. Ask CI predicted seafood consumption in China will total 69.6 million MT in 2021 and will grow to 70.8 million MT in 2022. That suggests consumption growth is strong, even considering the impact of the pandemic-related restrictions that have hindered the market, such as restaurant closures and travel limitations.

Per capita consumption among urbanized Chinese has shown upward momentum, according to Ask CI’s data, which estimated that demographic’s 2019 per capita consumption at 16.7 kilograms. But average rural consumption was much lower, at 9.6 kilograms, suggesting further urbanization might be a driver of seafood consumption. Overall per-capita seafood consumption will rise from 14.25 kilograms in 2021 to 14.9 kilograms in 2022, according to Ask CI – offering the caveat that its figures capture dine-out consumption but not in-home consumption in homes, which has grown through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, seafood hit a milestone when it drew even with pork in per-capita consumption terms. However, that figure may slip backwards, as the price of pork has tumbled in the past six months with a recovery in supply following the swine flu outbreak that decimated Chinese pig herds.

News source: SeafoodSource