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November 20, 2015

China

Guangdong Province—Broodstock Imports Increase

 

In Guangdong Province, the heart of the China’s shrimp farming industry, the quantity of imported shrimp broodstock in the first ten months of 2015 increased to 273,000 animals (up 13.8 %) worth $13.3 million (up 21.7%).

 

According to the regional fisheries bureau, the increases are part of an effort to improve the quality and sustainability of Chinese shrimp production, which has had problems with viruses and inbreeding.

 

Despite numerous plans and subsidies from the government, China hasn’t been able to effectively deal with the overuse of chemicals, inbred broodstock and poor quality feed.  Consequently, the quality of its production is inconsistent.  “Standardization” is one of the most commonly used words in the lengthy documents published by China’s fisheries authorities, a reference to the need for consistency and higher standards in the country’s shrimp farming sector.

 

To that end, demonstration farms have been set up, and officials have visited farms and processing plants to help them produce a more consistent product—but quantity rather than quality remains the goal of China’s seafood sector.  Official production targets always stress quantity over quality.

 

There is a steady but fundamental shift underway which will ultimately see China wind down its shrimp exports in favor of domestic sales and imports.  The long-term outlook for domestic demand is very promising, and that demand is likely to gradually reduce the amount of shrimp available for export.  China’s shrimp exports have been on a downward trajectory in recent years, falling by nearly 14 percent in 2014 to approximately 60,000 metric tons while imports of shrimp rose 10 percent to 78,000 tons.

 

Already processors are complaining about the shortage of consistent, quality shrimp in China, and some have attempted to increase their own pond production, not an easy task given the shortage of land, credit and affordable labor in southern China.  A glut of low-quality shrimp has meant low prices for the past six months.  Farm-gate prices for shrimp in China only began to improve this past month with the seasonal tightening of supply.  The China Shrimp Price Index, maintained by the Agriculture Ministry, rose 1.71 points to 109.45 for the week ended November 13, 2015.

 

While China’s supply of shrimp from Vietnam has been threatened by the latter’s entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), China has been promoting alternative free trade deals such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed 16-nation free-trade area that would be the world’s biggest free-trade bloc, encompassing 3.4 billion people and including China as well as India, another major shrimp producer.

 

Source: SeafoodSource.com.  Editor, Sean Murphy (smurphy@divcom.com).  Farmed Shrimp in China Has a Quality Problem.  Mark Godfrey (SeafoodSource contributing editor reporting from Beijing, China).  November 19, 2015.

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