Qingdao, China:  With more than a month to go before the 23rdannual China Fisheries & Seafood Expo, the show organizers say the show had sold out, filling all 10 exhibit halls at the Qingdao International Expo Center.  This year’s show dates are November 7-9. 

A record1,600 companies  from 50 countries will be exhibiting this year. With 45,000 square meters, in terms of exhibit space China Fisheries & Seafood Expo is now the largest seafood trade show in the world. Some 25,000 visitors from 100 countries are expected to attend.

The number of Overseas Exhibitors at CFSE has increased about 12 percent over the 2017 show, says Jennie Fu, the show’s marketing manager. “We added space in a new hall for Overseas Exhibitors this year,” she says. In addition to individual companies the show has 19 international pavilions, many of which booked additional space this year.

“The basic market forces that have now made CFSE the largest seafood show haven’t really changed,” says Peter Redmayne, president of Seattle-based Sea Fare Expositions, Inc., the co-founder and overseas organizer of the show. “China’s population is increasingly affluent, they love seafood and the logistics of their distribution systems keep improving.”

What has changed in China, Redmayne says, is it’s getting much easier to import seafood. China has signed numerous Free Trade Agreements with seafood-producing countries around the world, which has greatly reduced tariffs, in many cases to zero.  Local customs clearance has also become much more efficient and shipments of live seafood, for example, can be cleared through Chinese customs, often in less than a few hours.  Finally, there is much more air freight capacity as nonstop flights from Europe, North America and Asia now serve second and third tier cities, in addition to the major international hubs of Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.

Getting seafood to the kitchens of Chinese consumers is also getting much easier, says Yang Hong, general manager of Beijing-based Sea Fare (China) Ltd.  Supermarkets are proliferating at the same time as the once ubiquitous wet markets are disappearing.  The internet giant, Alibaba, for example, plans to open 2,000 of its high-tech Hema stores in the next five years. Shoppers at these stores, which showcase seafood, can purchase at the store, select their food at the store and have it delivered, or simply order online and have it delivered.  If the consumer lives within 3 kilometers of a store, delivery time is 30 minutes or less. 

 “The Chinese government knows it will have to rely more and more on imported seafood to meet the country’s growing demand,” says Redmayne. “That’s because Beijing has adopted increasingly strong measures to conserve and better manage its own fisheries resources and reduce the negative environmental impacts of aquaculture. That’s great news for seafood producers around the world who are looking for new markets.”