Buoyed by the four per cent value-wise export growth in FY23, marine product exporters are looking to sustain the show in the current year as well, especially with the opening up of new markets in Russia and the European Union. India fetched export revenue of $7.76 billion in FY22.

The EU has approved 60-odd new units to import shipments from India, while Russia allowed 20 new units, thanks to the efforts by the Commerce Ministry, Export Inspection Agencies etc, says Jagdish Fofandi, National President of Seafood Exporters Association of India. This would open up opportunities for more players from the country to make inroads into these markets.

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Against odds

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Kochi, he said “The four per cent growth was a surprise to us especially when there was a drop in aquaculture production, shrinking US markets, and recession in Europe and Chinese market uncertainties. We thought there could be a slight drop on account of various factors, instead, we grew by 4 per cent and were able to maintain the production level as good as last year”.

The holding average stock with exporters was the highest in the last 10 years and this has given a boost to exports. Being the major market, the US is a concern with regard to import restrictions on aquaculture prawns. Besides, there is a potential threat from emerging shrimp producers, such as Ecuador, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, where the production cost is much cheaper than India, he said.

Moreover, the Indian shrimp production this year is likely to drop mainly because of less off-take of feeds and seeds by farmers. “It is a worrisome, especially when we are making our presence felt in emerging economies”, Fofandi said.

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Non-trade barriers

On the slowdown effect, he said there has been a drop of around 15-25 per cent both from the US and Europe. At the same time, alternate supply lines are opening up from other countries. “This has given us the confidence to maintain the production level like last year. However, leveraging the market by way of FTA’s, getting rid of non-trade barriers is a must for success and the growth of the sector”, he said.

The association president also emphasised the need for value addition, tie up with importers for buy-back arrangement, to make the country a seafood processing hub like South East Asian nations. He urged the government to take steps to allow easing of import of raw materials, ingredients to facilitate more exports from the country.

On exploring Latin American markets, he said it is not a very niche market. In any economy, seafood is among the higher-end products in terms of cost. To get best pricing for the products, there is a need to target higher-end markets.