With the Chinese market clouded by uncertainties in the wake of the Covid pandemic and India-China military stand-off, seafood exporters are stepping on the gas to scout for new markets.
Australian and Korean markets are top on the list of seafood exporters from India and Andhra Pradesh, which accounts for 30 per cent of the country’s marine exports.
“There will be some impact on seafood exports due to these reasons this fiscal. But I can say that the American market is back on rails, especially in the high-end product category,” said Mr C.H. Kishore Kumar, former Vice-Chairman of Marine Products Export Development Authority.
Adds Mr Pawan Kumar, Managing Director of Sprint Exports and Secretary of Seafood Exporters Association of India, AP region: “It is too early to scale down the Chinese market, as even in the last two to three months China has been buying seafood products from us.”
“Reducing dependence on US and Chinese markets and getting new markets for our products will go a long way to get better prices.”
—Mr Pawan Kumar, Secretary
Seafood Exporters Association of India, AP region
The US continues to be the dominant export market for Indian seafood products, accounting for a share of 40 per cent. The US is followed by China with a share of about 30 per cent, most of which go into the value-addition mill there for further exports. “Reducing dependence on US and Chinese markets and getting new markets for our products will go a long way to get better prices,” Mr Pawan said.
However, for the Australian and Korean markets to materialise, India will have to negotiate with the two countries for some easing of trade barriers. India has opened negotiations, but it is not sure when these would conclude. “We can only hope that something positive comes out of the negotiations this fiscal,” he pointed out.
The Korean market could be particularly lucrative, as it has already opened up for Vietnam, which supplies seafood products for wider value-addition. And Vietnam buys the raw material from India for export to Korea. “With a direct access to Korea, we can supply the raw material directly. Both the Korean and Australian markets are untapped by Indian seafood exporters,” Mr Pawan said.
“The American market is back on rails, especially in the high-end product category.”
Mr C.H. Kishore Kumar
Former Vice-Chairman of
Marine Products Export Development Authority
Seafood exports could be flat
Last fiscal, India exported seafood worth Rs 50,000 crore, with the share of Andhra Pradesh being Rs 15,000 crore, reflecting a jump of just 5 per cent. This was mainly on account of crop failure due to poor quality of brood stocks—this had led to a 5-10 per cent fall in the total production of 4.5 lakh tonnes.
“This fiscal we expect the market to be either flat or mark a slight fall due to the Covid-related uncertainties. However, we still have nine months to go—let’s hope for the best,” Mr Pawan said.