Coronavirus hits sustainable aquaculture

Delayed Orders and Postponed Industry Events

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused delays in processing tilapia in China, leading to a significant impact on the country’s aquaculture sector. Major importing nations, including the United States and others, have held off on placing orders, creating challenges for Chinese aquaculture companies, particularly those specializing in sustainable products that heavily rely on exports.

Two significant industry events, Seafood Expo North America and Seafood Expo Global, have already been postponed. Seafood Expo North America, the largest exhibition of its kind in the continent, was scheduled to take place in Boston in mid-March, while Seafood Expo Global was planned for Brussels in April.

Shifting Relationships and Negotiations Online

The postponement of these events has disrupted the traditional order confirmation process for Chinese aquaculture companies. Chen Sheng, the general manager of Maoming Evergreen Aquatic Product Co. Ltd., highlighted the importance of the first exhibition in confirming a significant percentage of their annual orders.

To adapt to the situation, maintaining relationships and conducting negotiations with customers have shifted to online platforms.

Challenges for Aquatic Product Producers

While the delay in orders may temporarily alleviate concerns about safety and supply stability from international buyers, challenges persist for producers of aquatic products such as tilapia, which heavily rely on overseas markets. The disruption caused by Covid-19 has led to a decrease in domestic buyers and reduced demand from restaurants, impacting hatcheries, farms, processors, and eventually exporters.

Declining Export Market

China’s aquatic exports have traditionally targeted Japan, Korea, the European Union (EU), and the United States for over a decade. However, the spread of the coronavirus has had a profound effect on these export markets.

Export activities to Korea are currently on hold, while exports to Japan, the EU, and the US have significantly declined. Cui He, the head of the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance, stated that China’s seafood exports are facing their biggest challenge to date.

One striking example is the decline in Chinese tilapia exports, with half of the usual export volume being affected. As the situation continues to evolve, the Chinese aquaculture sector is navigating through uncertainties and exploring alternative strategies to maintain stability and adapt to changing market dynamics.

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