Vijayawada: COVID pandemic and sluggish overseas markets have cast shadows over India's seafood sector. The country exported 11,49,341 MT of marine products worth Rs 43,717.26 crore (US$ 5.96 billion) during 2020-21, registering a contraction of 10.88 percent 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 (US$ 6.68 billion), marking a decline of 6.31 percent in rupee terms and 10.81 percent 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. Also, the aquaculture sector performed better during this fiscal by contributing 67.99 percent of exported items in dollar terms and 46.45 percent in quantity, which is 4.41 percent and 2.48 percent higher, respectively when compared to 2019-20," said KS Srinivas, Chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).

Frozen shrimp accounted for 51.36 percent production and 74.31 percent 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).

However, shrimp exports declined by 9.47 percent in dollar value and 9.50 percent in quantity. The overall shrimps export was 5,90,275 MT worth 4,426.19 million dollars. The export of Vannamei (white leg) 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 percent was exported to the USA, followed by China (15.13 percent), EU (7.83 percent), South East Asia (5.76 percent), Japan (4.96 percent) and the Middle East (3.59 percent).

Japan, the major market for Black Tiger (Penaeus monodon) shrimp, had a share of 39.68 percent in dollar terms, followed by the USA (26.03 percent), South East Asia (9.32 per cent), EU (8.95%), the Middle East (6.04 percent), and China (3.76 percent).

Frozen fish, with a share of 16.37 percent in quantity and 6.75 percent in dollar earnings, retained the second position in exports basket though its shipments plummeted by 15.76 percent in quantity and 21.67 percent 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 percent and 0.26 percent by quantity and rupee value, respectively, but declined in dollar terms by 5.02 percent.

Frozen squid and frozen cuttlefish exports declined in volume by 30.19 percent and 16.38 per cent, respectively. However, dried items showed an increase of 1.47 percent and 17 percent 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 percent and 39.91 percent in volume, respectively.

Capture fisheries contribution reduced from 56.03 percent to 53.55 percent in quantity and from 36.42 percent to 32.01 percent in dollar value. However, tilapia and ornamental fish performed well with a 55.83 percent and 66.55 percent increase in quantity and an uptick of 38.07 percent and 14.63 percent in dollar earnings, respectively. Tuna showed a 14.6 percent increase in quantity, but its dollar earnings dropped by 7.39 percent. Crab and scampi exports reduced both in quantity and value.

The USA, with imports of 2,91,948 MT, continued to be the major importer of Indian seafood with a share of 41.15 percent in dollar terms. Exports to that country grew by 0.48 % in rupee value but declined by 4.34 percent and 4.35 percent in quantity and dollar terms, respectively. Frozen shrimp remained the principal item exported to USA while exports of Vannamei shrimp showed an uptick of 6.75 percent in quantity. However, its import of Black Tiger shrimps decreased by 70.96 percent and 65.24 percent in quantity and dollar terms, respectively.

China, with an import of 2,18,343 MT of seafood worth 939.17 million dollars remained the second largest market with a share of 15.77 percent in dollar earnings and 19 percent in quantity terms. However, exports to this country declined by 33.73 percent and 31.68 percent in quantity and dollar terms, respectively. Frozen shrimp was the major item of exports to China, accounting for a share of 46.64 percent in quantity and 61.87 percent in dollar earnings.

EU, the third-largest destination with a share of 13.80 percent in dollar value, imported frozen shrimp as the major item. However, the export of frozen shrimp to EU countries decreased by 5.27 percent and 6.48 percent in quantity and dollar value, respectively.

Exports to South East Asia had a share of 11.17 percent in dollar value. However, it declined by 2.56 percent in quantity and 5.73 percent in dollar earnings. Shipments to Japan, the fifth largest importer with a share of 6.92 percent in dollar terms, grew by 10.52 percent in quantity but declined by 2.42 percent in dollar value.

The Middle East, the sixth largest destination with a share of 4.22 percent in dollar value, declined by 15.30 percent and 15.51 percent in quantity and dollar terms, respectively. Frozen shrimp was the major item of exports, having a share of 72.23 percent in dollar terms.

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 fewer fishing days, slow logistic movements, and market uncertainties. 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 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, the scarcity of containers made it difficult for exporters to execute orders in time. The closure of the HoReCa (hotel, restaurant, and café) segment also affected the demand. In Japan and EU, COVID-induced lockdowns made the retail, restaurant, supermarkets, and hotel consumption sluggish.

Newsmeter Network

An independent digital media platform that brings you credible news stories and Analysis of current affairs as they unfold.

Next Story