October 18, 2023


China aqua food products: What's making gains in Chinese import and consumption

An eFeedLink Exclusive


Data shows that all consumers in China have bought aquatic food products, among which shrimp and fish are the most popular.


On average, 58.3% of Chinese consumers spend ¥51-200 (US$7.12-27.91) on each purchase of aqua food products, with a copious amount of freshwater fish getting consumed. In 2021, the total output of aquaculture-based fish in China was 28.25 million tonnes, of which 26.4028 million tonnes were freshwater fish, accounting for 93.5% of the total output.


Meanwhile, as the proportion of seawater-based food products in aquaculture production increased steadily, consumer demand also boosted the import of aquatic food products, particularly South American white shrimp.


According to China Customs statistics, the country imported 4.37 million tonnes of aquatic food products in 2022, a year-on-year increase of 20.6%. Among them, the annual import volume of South American white shrimp surged to a historic high of 818,000 tonnes, a year-on-year increase of over 43%.


With the support of e-commerce networking and efficient global logistics and distribution, China's consumption of imported high-end aquatic food products strengthened greatly in recent years. Last year, China's top five countries by import volume mainly supplied warm water shrimp, basa fish (pangasius), king crab, snow crab and lobster.


In 2022, China imported 1.126 million tonnes of crustaceans worth US$9.8 billion, an 37% increase over the previous year while import volume increased by 34%. It also imported US$5.65 billion worth of warm-water shrimp, a 53% surge compared with 2021, while import volume expanded 43% to 874,000 tonnes. The import of cold-water shrimp rose sharply by 69% to 72,000 tonnes in volume and 108% in value to US$542 million.


In the same year, China's imports of chilled whole Atlantic salmon totaled 49,018 tonnes, an 8% drop. Also, after three years of the pandemic, Chinese consumption of chilled salmon failed to increase significantly. In the meantime, salmon prices have hit record highs, and rising air freight rates have made salmon more expensive than shrimp.


Last year, despite disruptions caused by the pandemic and COVID-related measures, China's seafood imports still set a historical record, indicating the strong growth trend of the consumption of high-end aqua food products in the country.


However, as Chinese consumers are currently worried about an economic recession in China, this growth trend is likely to diminish.

- David Lin, eFeedLink

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