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Indian seafood exporters hit Great Wall as China detects Covid in packaging materials


The rise in the number of Indian seafood export companies banned by China following the detection of Covid nucleic acid on packaging materials has started to worry shippers. From a meager level to single digits in June and July, the figure crossed 50, forcing companies to find other markets to stay afloat.

The seafood export fraternity called for intervention at the highest level, especially after initiatives at the GACC (General Administration of Customs of China) and Marine Products Export Development Authority in India and the ‘Export Inspection Agency were unsuccessful.

The Indian Seafood Exporters Association has also raised the issue with the government given the looming demand for Christmas. China is the most important market for exporters who process, among other things, shrimp and small squid.

Read also: “China uses the pandemic as an excuse to block Indian imports”

Shaji Baby John, Chairman and CEO of Kochi-based Kings Infra, said Activity area, of the banned businesses, around 40 to 50 are from Andhra Pradesh alone. About 100 exporters are affected by the problem and the rejection of the shipment has hit their business hard.

Price drop

India, John said, is the cheapest source of raw material supplier for China, especially small shrimp, and the lingering problem has caused prices to drop by 20%. The current economic situation and the increase in Covid cases would make the problem worse.

Official sources have said that there are still cases of Covid nucleic acid detected in packages and that indefinitely suspended units will be virtually inspected by the GACC. They must erase the defects found to recover their registration for exporting to China. Up to 52 companies have been suspended indefinitely and 16 have been inspected so far.

Lakkaraju Satyanarain (Tikku), consultant for Shrimp Improvement System, Florida, India, said that due to issues with India, China is more dependent on Ecuador sourcing around 25,000 tonnes of shrimp in September as Indian exports had fallen to 10,000 tonnes from 17,000 tonnes.

Ecuador grows over 40,000 tonnes per month, which would have a negative impact on Indian shipments.

Rising demand

However, strong demand from the United States and the stability of the second harvest in the East-West region of Godavari have rekindled hopes, especially in the increase in the cultivation area (new farms) of around 10,000 hectares. .

In alternative markets, Shaji Baby John said there had been huge demand from the United States, Europe and Japan before Christmas, but the rise in transportation costs of around 300-500% is a major concern. Last year the cost of freight to the United States was $ 6,000, which has risen to $ 18,000 this year.

With a good harvest season now, John said, farmers are focusing on quality, larger-sized shrimp and looking to other markets due to weak demand from China.

MPEDA had consulted with the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, to deal with growing incidents of detection of Covid nucleic material in export shipments. He was in turn informed that seafood shipments to China can be disinfected by following a protocol to exclude the presence of Covid nucleic acid in the shipments.

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