‘COVID, low demand overseas cast shadow over seafood exports’

By: |
June 02, 2021 5:10 PM

The pandemic drastically affected seafood exports during the first half of the year, but it revived well in the last quarter of 2020-21, said K S Srinivas, Chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).

Srinivas said besides the pandemic impact, several other factors negatively impacted seafood exports during 2020-21.

The COVID-19 pandemic and sluggish overseas markets cast their shadow over the resurgent seafood sector of the country as it exported 11,49,341 MT of marine products worth Rs 43,717.26 crore (USD 5.96 billion) during FY 2020-21. With this, there was a contraction of 10.88 per cent in volume as compared to a year earlier. USA, China and the European Union (EU) were the leading importers while frozen shrimp retained its position as the major export item followed by frozen fish. In 2019-20, India exported 12,89,651 MT of seafood worth Rs 46,662.85 crore (USD 6.68 billion), marking a decline of 6.31 per cent in rupee terms and 10.81 per cent in dollar value in 2020-21. The pandemic drastically affected seafood exports during the first half of the year, but it revived well in the last quarter of 2020-21, said K S Srinivas, Chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).

Also, he said, the aquaculture sector performed better during this fiscal by contributing 67.99 per cent of exported items in dollar terms and 46.45 per cent in quantity, which is 4.41 per cent and 2.48 per cent higher, respectively when compared to 2019-20. Frozen shrimp contributed 51.36 per cent in quantity and 74.31 per cent of the total dollar earnings. USA remained its largest importer (2,72,041 MT), followed by China (1,01,846 MT), EU (70,133 MT), Japan (40,502 MT), South-East Asia (38,389 MT), and the Middle-East (29,108 MT), an MPEDA statement said here on Wednesday. However, shrimp exports declined by 9.47 per cent in dollar value and 9.50 per cent in quantity. The overall shrimp export was 5,90,275 MT worth 4,426.19 million dollars. The export of Vannamei (whiteleg) shrimp decreased from 5,12,204 MT to 4,92,271 MT in 2020-21.

Of the total Vannamei shrimp exports in dollar value, 56.37 per cent was exported to USA, followed by China (15.13 per cent), EU (7.83 per cent), South East Asia (5.76 per cent), Japan (4.96 per cent) and the Middle East (3.59 per cent), it said. Japan, the major market for Black Tiger (Penaeus monodon) shrimp, had a share of 39.68 per cent in dollar terms, followed by USA (26.03 per cent), South-East Asia (9.32 per cent), EU (8.95 per cent), the Middle-East (6.04 per cent) and China (3.76 per cent). Frozen fish, with a share of 16.37 per cent in quantity and 6.75 per cent in dollar earnings, retained the second position in exports basket though its shipments plummeted by 15.76 per cent in quantity and 21.67 per cent in dollar terms. Other items, the third largest category that largely comprised Surimi (fish paste) and Surimi analogue (imitation) products, showed a marginal growth of 0.12 per cent and 0.26 per cent by quantity and rupee value, respectively, but declined in dollar terms by 5.02 per cent. Frozen squid and frozen cuttlefish exports declined in volume by 30.19 per cent and 16.38 per cent, respectively. However, dried items showed an increase of 1.47 per cent and 17 per cent in quantity and rupee value, respectively. Shipments of chilled items and live items, which were negatively affected due to the reduced air cargo connectivity in the pandemic situation, fell by 16.89 per cent and 39.91 per cent in volume respectively. USA, with imports of 2,91,948 MT, continued to be the major importer with a share of 41.15 per cent in dollar terms. Exports to that country grew by 0.48 per cent in rupee value but declined by 4.34 per cent and 4.35 per cent in quantity and dollar terms respectively. Srinivas said besides the pandemic impact, several other factors negatively impacted seafood exports during 2020-21.

“On the production side, there were reduced fish landings due to less number of fishing days, slow logistic movements and market uncertainties,” he said. Scarcity of workers in fishing and processing plants, paucity of containers at seaports, increased air freight charges and limited flight availability affected exports, especially of high-value chilled and live products, the official said. The situation in the overseas market was another dampener. In China, container shortage, increased freight charges, and COVID testing on seafood consignments caused market uncertainties. In the USA, scarcity of containers made it difficult for exporters to execute orders in time. Closure of HoReCa (hotel, restaurant and caf) segment also affected the demand. In Japan and the EU, COVID-induced lockdowns made the retail, restaurant, supermarkets and hotel consumption sluggish, the statement added.

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