The Covid pandemic and sluggish overseas markets cast their shadow over India’s resurgent seafood sector as the country could export only 11,49,341 MT (metric tonne) of marine products worth Rs 43,717.26 crore (US$ 5.96 billion) during FY 2020-21, according to MPEDA chairman KS Srinivas. In a statement here on Thursday, Srinivas said in 2019-20, India exported 12,89,651 MT seafood worth Rs 46,662.85 crore (US$ 6.68 billion). Compared with this, 2020-21 export mark a decline of 6.31 per cent in rupee terms and 10.81 per cent in dollar value. “The pandemic drastically affected seafood exports during the first half of the year, but it revived well in the last quarter of 2020-21,” he said.
The chairman said 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). The MPEDA chairman said frozen shrimp remained the principal item exported to USA while exports of Vannamei shrimp showed an uptick of 6.75 per cent in quantity. However, its import of Black Tiger shrimps decreased by 70.96 per cent and 65.24 per cent 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 per cent in dollar earnings and 19 per cent in quantity 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 less number of 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 overseas market was another dampener. In China, container shortage, increased freight charges, and Covid testing on seafood consignments caused market uncertainties. In US, scarcity of containers made it difficult for exporters to execute orders in time. Closure of hotels, restaurants also affected the demand. In Japan and EU, Covid-induced lockdowns made the retail, restaurant, supermarkets and hotel consumption sluggish.

Source: The Hans India