Business / Industries

Maori feeding Chinese appetite for seafood

By Wang Huazhong and Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-19 07:52

Holding spears decorated with feathers while sticking their tongues out and protruding their eyes, a group of Maori indigenous people from New Zealand shouted, sang and danced through an exhibition hall at the 20th China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province.

"The Maori people are very much part of the fishing industry in New Zealand," said Hon Te Ururoa Flavell, minister for Maori development and associate minister for economic development. "They have a 50-percent fishing quota in New Zealand and 40 percent of their exports were to China in 2014."

Statistics show China has become the second-largest importer of products from New Zealand and especially from Maori. It exempted tariffs for most New Zealand seafood beginning in 2012, when the two signed a free trade agreement.

"China is where there's so much demand," said Flavell, who added that the Maori are tapping into the market potential with a unique and indigenous brand.

"We want to put the brand out there because we are about quality, in our sustainability of resources and our management of resources. Whatever product we give to the world we share, we know it's right and the best we can do. That again is the value we hold as indigenous people," he said.

New Zealand is not the only country interested in a bigger share of the expanding Chinese fishery and seafood market, which has had a growing taste for expensive products.

Figures from customs authorities show that China imported 4.28 million metric tons of aquatic products in 2014 - an increase of 2.65 percent year-on-year - at a value of $9.19 billion, up 6.34 percent.

In the same year, China exported 4.16 million tons of aquatic products, a 5.16-percent rise, at $21.7 billion, up 7.08 percent.

Over 1,300 companies from 46 countries and regions around the world took part in the exhibition that opened on Nov 4 in the coastal city.

Dave Murphy, the commerce minister at the Canadian embassy to China, said he is pleased to see that Chinese consumers and China's market are interested in high-quality products, including lobster and coldwater shrimp from Canada.

He said the global exports of Canadian seafood reached $4.9 billion in 2014. China is Canada's second-largest market for seafood exports, representing $520 million worth of exports in 2014.

Hoping to take the opportunities to communicate directly about the quality and value of Canadian seafood to Chinese consumers, Canadian exporters unveiled an online sales platform on, a major e-commerce player at the expo.

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