HONG KONG - Highly regarded as one of the industry's most influential trade events, Seafood Expo Asia will introduce an expanded programme of special events and networking opportunities when the exposition returns for its sixth edition at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 8-10 September, 2015.
In 2014, the event welcomed more than 200 exhibiting companies and over 8,600 seafood buyers and suppliers from 71 countries. Aside from providing visitors with the opportunity to taste and explore the finest fish and seafood from different regions of the world, the 2015 exposition organized by Diversified Communications will serve as a professional forum that brings together the entire seafood industry for three days of business, networking and in-depth discussions.
With Hong Kong serving as the gateway to China, the fastest growing aquaculture market in the world, a focus of this year's event will be to deliver valuable industry insight and facilitate meaningful business introductions to assist overseas companies looking to expand into China's thriving seafood market which a 2015 Technavio research publication states will be valued at $100 billion by 2019.
"As China's middle class continues to grow, Chinese consumers are increasingly looking to purchase imported fish and seafood products," says Ms Liz Plizga, Seafood Group Vice President for Diversified Communications. "The exposition offers seafood suppliers the opportunity to sell a variety of live, frozen fresh or value-added products to meet this increasing consumer demand."
According to a 2014 Global Trade Atlas report, China imported $8.4 billion worth of seafood from around the world in 2013, an increase of 8.9 per cent over 2012. A 2014 Euromonitor study also reveals that China's consumption of particularly fresh fish and shellfish has been steadily increasing in volume since 2008, reaching 36.6 million tonnes in 2013. This equates to a compound annual growth rate of 4.6 per cent.
Apart from offering specialist tastings, master classes and educational sessions, Ms Terri Tsang, Show Director for Seafood Expo Asia, expresses that in 2015, Seafood Expo Asia will offer a number of new initiatives including special country delegations, business matchmaking, hosted buyer programmes and networking events, that are designed to encourage greater interaction between exhibitors, trade visitors and conference delegates.
"Matching the interests of buyers and suppliers is an important objective of Seafood Expo Asia," says Ms Tsang.
"We aim to maximise the networking experience of participants at the exposition. For this reason, we are implementing new programmes to provide overseas companies with the opportunity to meet top-level importers and buyers from both China and the Asian region. Conversely, regional seafood producers will be able to connect and build profitable, sustainable relationships with members of the international trade."
In terms of Hong Kong, Ms Plizga remarks that the territory is a major buying centre and transshipment point for not only China, but also Southeast Asia.
"The presence of a large number of seafood importers, distributors, logistics companies and storage facilities, make Hong Kong an ideal destination for both the import and re-export of high value fish and seafood."
As an import-dependent market, 95 per cent of the food and beverage (F&B) products consumed in Hong Kong are imported. In fact, according to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, 16 per cent of imported F&B is seafood, much of which is distributed through the territory's dynamic hotel and restaurant sector that data from Euromonitor reports generated over $12.6 billion in 2013.
"Another trend we are seeing in Hong Kong is the growing popularity of seafood ready meals," continues Ms Plizga stating that this development is most prevalent amongst young people who are increasingly relying on these types of meals.
"In response, we expect greater innovation within the trade as it seeks to create new recipes and flavour combinations to meet growing demand for convenient meals."
A further observation is that while both wet market and supermarket sales are increasing, supermarkets are taking a more significant share of total sales with some retail chains in Hong Kong introducing dedicated live fish and seafood counters particularly in their superstores. In parallel, processed, chilled, frozen and canned seafood is becoming more widely available in supermarkets, and as annual seafood consumption per person continues to increase, retail sales of these items are expected to grow.
"According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, between 2010 and 2014, imported seafood into Hong Kong grew by 20 per cent," remarks Ms Plizga.
"To help the industry adapt to changing market conditions, we have created special areas within the 2015 event to concentrate on specific sections of the trade from hotel and restaurant chefs, to retailers and supermarkets."
Ms Plizga points out that high quality fish and seafood is also not simply a matter of good taste alone.
"Given that Asian markets have an insatiable appetite for fish and shellfish, amounting to approximately two-thirds of the world's total consumption, consumers are looking for good quality seafood that is nutritious, ethically harvested and sustainably produced."
Given the growing interest around responsibly caught and farmed seafood, industry experts will convene at Seafood Expo Asia to discuss the latest trends, developments and updates on aquaculture sustainability and how to protect the ocean's health.
Co-located with Restaurant & Bar Hong Kong, interested parties are invited to register for Seafood Expo Asia and learn more by visiting www.seafoodexpo.com/asia.
TheFishSite News Desk