This was slightly below last years figures, reflecting lower demand and lower prices, according to Mr K Jose Cyriac, chairman, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
Seventeen Indian firms were present at the MPEDA stand at the 11th European Seafood Exposition, the worlds largest seafood event, which attracts visitors from over 100 countries. The crowds were somewhat thinner this year, undoubtedly because of the SARS epidemic. The Chinese stand, for example, had noticeably fewer visitors this year.
Indian seafood exports to the 15-nation European Union (EU) amounted to 292 million euro* in 2002, an increase of 9.3% over the previous year. This included frozen shrimps and prawns worth 151 million euro, an increase of 19% over 2001. Exports of squid came to 117 million euro, up nearly 3% over 2001. India ranked 8th among the EUs seafood suppliers last year, when the EUs total imports of seafood came to just under 10 billion euro.
Among Indias competitors, Bangladesh recorded a 7% rise in its seafood exports to the EU last year, to 183 million euro. Thai exports dropped, on the other hand, by 23% to 152 million euro. Despite a drop in its exports of 21% last year, Argentina remained the largest supplier of seafood to the EU among developing countries, with exports of 520 million euro in 2002.
These figures indicate that Indian seafood processors have taken the necessary steps to meet the EUs stringent sanitary regulations, particularly as regards the presence of antibiotics. Out of some 7,000 to 8,000 consignments, just three to four consignments have been destroyed. By next month, nine laboratories will be in operation to ensure that the 120 processing units approved by the EU continue to meet its health regulations.
These regulations are enforced by the member states themselves. Italy and Spain have proved the most difficult in this connection. The MPEDA chairman and a senior diplomat from the Indian Mission to the EU were in Rome on Friday, for talks with the Italian health authorities.
(* The euro is currently worth approximately Rs. 51)