According to Bunshun Online on September 22, “About 30% of the scallops we land are left, and we are concerned about the future of dried scallops, which depend on exports to China. Prices will definitely go down and the outlook for next year is uncertain. We are working to sell directly to the U.S. or try to get the EU to buy some more. …… Every day, we manage to look forward.”
While the suspension of Chinese seafood imports continues, Toyoaki Mori, executive director of the Hokkaido Sarufutsu Village Fisheries Cooperative Association, remains stouthearted. The first candidate for “ending our dependence on China” is the “Sarufutsu Village Fishery Cooperative.
A “Secret Plan” for Southeast Asia, the First Candidate for “Exiting Dependence on China
Scallops are Japan’s top earner in exports of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products, with exports to China accounting for more than half of the record 91 billion yen in 2022. But here’s the trick. Most of the shellfish are exported frozen. After being peeled by human labor at processing plants in China, the shellfish are either exported to the United States or consumed in China. In other words, China is “cutting out the middleman.” (METI official) On September 4, the government announced that it would provide a total of over 100 billion yen in assistance to develop overseas sales channels in place of China. Which countries offer the best business opportunities to “break away from dependence on China”? The first candidates are Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other Southeast Asian countries. The president of a marine products trading company reveals his “secret plan. It is unrealistic to think that there is no Chinese market, and the Chinese love Japanese scallops so much that they will soon run out of patience. However, Japanese processing plants are short of labor and cannot respond immediately to the current scallop surplus. Therefore, there is a way to outsource processing to Vietnam, which has a more abundant young labor force and is more pro-Japanese than China, and export them to China and the United States. In fact, food processing plants are already doing so.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ “Strategies to Expand Exports of Agricultural, Forestry, Marine and Food Products by Country/Region,” the government sees Southeast Asia as a “promising market” for direct sales of Japanese brand fish. In Southeast Asia, there is a growing preference for Japanese food, especially among the wealthy. At a food fair held in Thailand in late May, king crabs and hairy crabs priced at 80,000-100,000 yen each were reportedly sold out in no time.
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