Seafood producers in Vietnam are expected to cash in on China’s rising consumption.

China’s growing appetite will significantly increase Vietnamese seafood exports this year, industry insiders say.

The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) forecast that the neighboring country’s seafood imports will hit a record high of more than $1 billion in 2017.

China is emerging as a top buyer of Vietnamese seafood, just behind the U.S., the European Union and Japan as many consumers can now afford to add more seafood in their daily meals.

Besides, with polluted and overfished waters at home, China is buying more from other countries, said the Food and Agriculture Organization. The United Nations body added that China has transformed from the world’s top producer and exporter of seafood to the world’s biggest market for seafood in 2016.

Last year, China’s shrimp imports from Vietnam, mostly unprocessed, jumped 23 percent to $431 million. China also surpassed the E.U. to become Vietnam’s second biggest buyer of pangasius catfish with total imports of $305 million, a 90-percent increase from 2015.

China is a large market but not without risks because it is not always easy to predict the long-term demand, said Truong Dinh Hoe, the chairman of VASEP. But he said imports will certainly increase this year and Vietnam will benefit from this trend.

“As Chinese consumption rises, Vietnamese seafood exports are expected to top $1 billion in 2017,” said Hoe.

Despite adverse weather conditions and an environmental disaster along the central coast, Vietnam’s seafood exports, one of the country’s top earners, managed to hit $7.1 billion last year after sales to overseas markets slightly fell to $6.7 billion in 2015, according to VASEP.

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