American seafood exports are seeing tremendous growth to Hong Kong, the trendsetter for taste and preferences in southern China and to the whole nation in many ways, says a seafood marketing specialist in Kodiak.
US seafood exports to Hong Kong grew in volume from less than 2,000 metric tons in 2001 to more than 18,000 metric tons in 2011, University of Alaska Professor Quentin Sai Wing Fong told fisheries industry participants in ComFish Alaska 2013 in Kodiak in mid-April. In value, those imports grew from less than $10 million to close to $130 million in a decade, he said.
Hong Kong, on China’s south coast, with a land mass of some 426 square miles and population of seven million people, has no more natural resources and is a food import dependent market, said Fong, himself a native of Hong Kong. People from southern China and elsewhere in that country come to Hong Kong to buy everything from real milk powder to branded products like Louis Vuitton because they don’t trust shops in mainland China, he said.
By 2012, Hong Kong’s top seafood imports from the US included 1,706 metric tons of liv geoduck worth $28.28 million dollars, 1,259 metric tons of live lobster, valued at $20.98 million, and 658 metric tons of live conch, worth $8.87 million.
Also imported were tons of mollusks, sea cucumbers prepared, live fresh oysters, lobster rock live and fresh, frozen sablefish, fresh sablefish, frozen lobster rock, lobster (Homarus) frozen and frozen, dried, salted clams.
The Chinese, said Fong, “really love US shellfish.”
Collectively the 48,469.51 metric tons of fresh seafood was worth $271 million in US dollars, while the 144,017 metric tons of frozen seafood imports were valued at $1 billion, Fong’s research showed.
Generally speaking the Hong Kong market is hyper competitive, sourcing globally, with price sensitive consumers willing to embrace natural and organic foods.
Country of original labeling is popular among high-end retailers and there is a growing demand for western style and traditional fast/ convenience foods, he said. US food products traditionally have a high reputation in Hong Kong too, he said.