HONG Kong has moved back into the fishing spotlight as Seafood Expo Asia returns to the territory in September.
Highly regarded as one of the industry’s most influential trade events, Seafood Expo Asia is introducing an expanded programme of special events and networking opportunities at the Convention and Exhibition Centre between September 8 and 10.
The event last year welcomed more than 200 exhibiting companies and over 8,600 seafood buyers and suppliers from 71 countries.
With Hong Kong serving as the gateway to China, the fastest growing aquaculture market in the world, a focus of this year’s expo will be to deliver valuable industry insight into the country.
China’s thriving seafood market states will be valued at US$ 100 billion by 2019, according to a 2015 Technavio report.
Liz Plizga, seafood group vice president for show organiser Diversified Communications, said: ‘As China’s middle class continues to grow, Chinese consumers are increasingly looking to purchase imported fish and seafood products.
‘The exposition offers seafood suppliers the opportunity to sell a variety of live, frozen fresh or value added products to meet this increasing consumer demand.’
According to a 2014 Global Trade Atlas report, China imported US$ 8.4 billion worth of seafood from around the world in 2013, an increase of 8.9 per cent over 2012.
A 2014 Euromonitor study also reveals that China’s consumption of particularly fresh fish and shellfish has been steadily increasing in volume since 2008, reaching 36.6 million tonnes in 2013.
Terri Tsang, show director for Seafood Expo Asia, said this year’s Seafood Expo Asia will offer a number of new initiatives, including special country delegations, business matchmaking, hosted buyer programmes and networking events that are designed to encourage greater interaction between exhibitors, trade visitors and conference delegates.
‘Matching the interests of buyers and suppliers is an important objective of Seafood Expo Asia,’ said Tsang.
‘We aim to maximise the networking experience of participants at the exposition. For this reason, we are implementing new programmes to provide overseas companies with the opportunity to meet top-level importers and buyers from both China and the Asian region.’
Hong Kong is a major buying centre and trans-shipment point for not only China, but also South East Asia.
Plizga said: ‘The presence of a large number of seafood importers, distributors, logistics companies and storage facilities, make Hong Kong an ideal destination for both the import and re-export of high value fish and seafood.’
Some 95 per cent of the food and beverage products consumed in Hong Kong are imported, around 16 per cent of which is seafood, according to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department.
Much of this is distributed through the territory’s dynamic hotel and restaurant sector that data from Euromonitor reports generated over US$ 12.6 billion in 2013.
‘Another trend we are seeing in Hong Kong is the growing popularity of seafood ready meals,’ said Plizga, adding that this development is most prevalent among young people.
‘In response, we expect greater innovation within the trade as it seeks to create new recipes and flavour combinations to meet growing demand for convenient meals.’
While both wet market and supermarket sales are increasing, supermarkets are taking a more significant share of total sales, with some retail chains in Hong Kong introducing dedicated live fish and seafood counters.
In parallel, processed, chilled, frozen and canned seafood is becoming more widely available in supermarkets, and as annual seafood consumption per person continues to increase, retail sales of these items are expected to grow.