China: "fertile" market for Vietnamese seafood
China is one of the countries with the largest seafood consumption in the world, and is also a major seafood importer, accounting for 18% of world seafood imports, said the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Processors (VASEP).
According to the General Department of Customs of Vietnam, by the end of July, Vietnam’s seafood exports had reached nearly $12 billion. The Chinese market made up $934 million, up 80.4% over the same period last year.
China has removed the policy of suspending the import of frozen food contaminated with Sars-COV-2 virus after nearly two years of implementation. It says that this will help grow Vietnam's frozen seafood exports to this market further.
Large-scale seafood restaurant chains, fast food chains, and food delivery service are thriving in this country, requiring a huge amount of raw materials. The limited supply of domestic seafood resources due to environmental factors in both fishing and farming has pushed up China’s seafood imports year by year, creating favorable conditions for international seafood exporters in general and Vietnam in particular.
It is predicted that in 2022 - 2023, China’s seafood consumption will increase to about 39-40kg/person (58 million tons for a population of 1.5 billion), and will rise to over 44kg/person (64 million tons) by 2028.
High-quality products are also becoming more popular among middle-class consumers, and the boom in e-commerce has greatly increased the convenience of shopping, boosting demand.
In addition, VAT and import taxes on seafood in China have also been reduced. In recent years, the Chinese Government has issued temporary lower tax rates of 2% to 5% for some products.
Challenges still exist
According to VASEP, after the pandemic, China's seafood market will be more standardized in all aspects of processing, storage, transportation and sales, which will improve the quality of the seafood industry and eliminate markets and processors that do not meet standards.
The pandemic has changed the food standards of Chinese consumers, and food quality and safety have become the first choice. Now the origin of Chinese seafood products can be traced. In addition, the QR code applied on product packaging allows Chinese consumers to get relevant information.
Vietnam's seafood exports to the Chinese market are facing difficulties after China implemented Order 248 on management of registration of foreign food production enterprises and Order 249 on management of food safety management for import and export food, effective January 1, 2022.
According to the Vietnam SPS Office, with the Order 249, the market will continue to have adjustments on sanitary and phytosanitary measures that are deeper, broader and stricter to monitor food safety and quarantine.
The Vietnam SPS Office recommends improved coordination of parties to adapt and meet the regulations on food safety and disease safety of the Chinese market.
This change requires Vietnamese seafood exporters to be strict and precise in the production and processing process to ensure food safety and hygiene standards in exporting, not only to the Chinese market, but also to other markets around the world.