The rewards to be gained by exporting more Scottish seafood to China are highlighted by new figures showing how firms in New Zealand have benefited from growing business there.
Bosses at trade body Seafood Scotland believe that if New Zealand can sell nearly £270million-worth of seafood to China in the year to March, helping drive total exports in the category to a record £808million, there is plenty of opportunity to also increase sales from this country.
Chinese demand, particularly around its new year celebrations, has cemented rock lobster as New Zealand’s most lucrative export species – worth nearly £145million last year.
Mussels, hoki, jack mackerel, orange roughy, ling, salmon, squid and paua – edible sea snails – are also being shipped to China from New Zealand in growing numbers.
Natalie Bell, trade marketing manager for Europe, the Middle East and Asia at Seafood Scotland said: “China’s economy has been growing for the last 25 years, as has its trading relationships with other countries across the globe.
“With that growth comes a more sophisticated consumer, seeking premium products and demanding healthy ingredients with established provenance.
“Coupled with a huge taste for seafood and an appetite for the best available, it’s little wonder that China is a key market for Scottish seafood, and the largest export destination in Asia for our fish and (other) seafood.”
Scottish firms were out in force at a major seafood trade show in Singapore last month to drum up interest from Chinese and other Far East buyers.
According to the most recent figures available, the total value of Scottish food and drink exports to China surged by 12% to £85million in 2014.
The latest annual figure was up by 83%, compared with seven years earlier.
Seafood was the most popular Scottish export to China in 2014, with the £43million worth of produce shipped to the country that year eclipsing whisky sales by about £4million.
Statistics suggest this could be a drop in the ocean in terms of the likely future demand for Scottish exports of salmon and other seafood.
Despite a recent slowdown, China’s economy is still growing at a rate of nearly 7% a year and the country’s middle-class is expected to make up about 40% of the total population by 2025.
Seafood firms in the north have a chance to find out more about opportunities in China at a free event in Inverness next week.
Organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in partnership with the China-Britain Council and EU SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) Centre, the export advice roadshow is open to food and drink business of all kinds. It takes place at Kingsmills Hotel on Tuesday, from 9.30am-4.15pm.