Seafood expo ready to reel in the visitors

Exhibitors prepare for more customers - and mainlanders - with a taste for the exotic

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 5:50am

Increasing demand for more exotic - and expensive - seafood, particularly from the mainland, is likely to keep the summer expo momentum going next week.

Asian Seafood Expo spokeswoman Mary Larkin said the mainland had gone from being a net exporter of shrimp to a net importer, reflecting huge growth in seafood consumption in recent years. The amount of seafood in the mainland diet is set to grow from 12kg per capita now to 36kg per capita by 2020, she said.

"Growth in disposable income in China has resulted in increased consumer spending on seafood in general, but specifically on premium seafood items," said Larkin, vice-president of Seafood Expositions. "Species such as lobster, abalone, shellfish, sea urchin, and sea cucumber are becoming much more popular over time.

"China has become a prime example of how the seafood industry is often a reflection of the current state of the economy."

Exhibitors have reported strong sales of seafood products this year, and Asia has become a key region, with sales rising exponentially. The seafood market in Hong Kong alone is worth US$2.68 billion, and 95 per cent of it comes from imports.

About 30 per cent to 40 per cent of seafood imported to Hong Kong is re-exported to the mainland, the United States, Macau, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Last year's Asian Seafood Expo drew more than 7,020 buyers and sellers of seafood and frozen products from over 50 countries. This year, products from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, France and the United States will be on show.

"In the past, there was less inter-Asian trade, but this has changed," Larkin said.

"Products are coming from all over the world, with a focus on species in high demand.

"As lifestyles become more urban and busier, more consumers have turned to meal solutions, with the demand for chilled and prepared food products growing," she said.

The expo runs from September 3 to 5 at the Exhibition Centre.