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China’s 50% drop in frozen Tilapia Exports

China is renowned for it’s Tilapia exports across the world. In 2019 they were responsible for 1.8 million tonnes of production, with a third of their product being exported to the United States of America. Despite soaring figures of exports, there was some sign of slower growth. Cultural attitudes in the west towards food are always shifting, governments of the importing countries are demanding more diligent checks towards quality and food safety, delaying sales slightly. Combined with Chinese Tilapia being on Donald Trump’s 10% tariff list in 2019 they still enjoyed a successful year.

Now we are in the new Covid-19 era, China’s lockdown effected every part of its supply chain. From machinery sales all the way through to hatchery production. Eventually as Covid has spread, their exports are expected to be reported at a sharp decline, which comes as no surprise. Fish farming is a continuous chain of processing, with some of China’s larger companies having 40% of their orders being put on hold; fish are growing to sizes where they need to be processed, they remain in their ponds therefore not allowing room for fry to be replenished this further impacts China’s sales from the elder community who prefer their product fresh. The full impacts are still not yet experienced and understood by economists and industry partners. For example, the cancellation of trade events has impacted sales of technology and equipment, its ramifications stem from raw production all the way to secondary production. There has been talks with Chen Sheng’s firm suggesting the reduction of exports and more of a focus on their own domestic markets. 

China has enjoyed a long-standing period of time of being a major exporter of many products and probably will have a steady standing in the future. China’s 4.0 strategy towards trade and tech is extensive and implements the use of automated cyber-human-physical system using digital technologies to boost productivity and position of trade. Some of the technology being developed is being designed and engineered in the UK on projects that our team have been working on.

Whilst China will still enjoy a large proportion of market share, the question must be asked how farmers elsewhere in the world can capitalise on the gap in this share. Particularly with the US being the largest purchaser. This doesn’t just come directly from the farmer who chooses to capitalise on the gap in sales, but also the way we utilise technology and educate our future generation of farmers. Serious investment from the economies that rely heavily on Tilapia imports despite having the desired domestic climates to sustainably produce Tilapia. As well as boosting GDP countries whose cultural attitudes demand higher quality food products and needs can be driven to the standards desired. The risk of excess Tilapia products being bottlenecked in production ponds could see a temporary drop in price, however western market needs to reflect on long term strategy towards obtaining the shortfall of sales. Lewie Cooper

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