China continues to be an important market for seafood import, given that the world’s most populous country has an increasing presence of upper and middle class who are keen on healthy food, experts said at the 22nd India International Seafood Show (IISS).

The marine food industry, though, must wake up to the fact that ‘new retail’ is the trend that is fast replacing ‘online’, where Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is building a retail ecosystem that innovatively blends online and offline channels in a unified way that features the consumer at the centre in unexpected ways, a technical session of the seafood show noted.

All the same, one should be wary of over-reliance on China as a partner in the seafood trade, the speakers pointed out while deliberating on the topic “Prospective Markets & Regulatory Environments”.

Carson Roper, Seafood Industry Consultant, France, in his talk on ‘China and farm-raised shrimp’, said the East Asian country is a primary marine products market that remains largely untapped. Projections say that China will continue to feature among the world’s top 11 seafood markets, he observed in the presentation that focused on how China impacts global seafood trade and consumption.

Roper spoke earlier as well, starting the session with a presentation on ‘Country and Brand Loyalty: An exploration of successful (and not successful) national and corporate seafood marketing initiatives’.

The others who spoke earlier were Lee Chee Wee of Singapore’s Aquaculture Innovation Centreon live shrimp transportation, Christopher Priddy, International Relations Specialist, USFDA, India (Overview of FDA regulations for seafood) and R M Mandlik, Deputy Director-Marketing, MPEDA (Importing country regulations and its impact on trade).

Mandlik, to a query on how MPEDA ensures the flow of seafood standard regulations to the country’s aqua farmers, said mechanisms on information dissemination are in place. “The farmers do get the message well in time; only that we need to give them a push to act on it,” he said. “We are working on it.”