Philippines seen importing $1.1 billion worth of seafood products this year

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may import more seafood products from foreign sources this year as global seafood product exports to the country are projected to grow by 20 percent this year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In a report by its Foreign Agricultural Service, the USDA said global seafood product exports to the Philippines may hit $1.1 billion this year.

The USDA said that in 2021,global exports of seafood products to the Philippines, particularly fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic invertebrates, jumped  by 40 percent to $970 million.

“Import demand remains supported by declining local fish stocks and a general lack of affordable animal protein alternatives,” the USDA said.

However, the report,  said that US seafood exports to the Philippines remain significantly underrepresented compared to   other Southeast Asia markets, totaling less than $10 million in recent years.

“While the Philippines is the top market for US consumer-oriented agricultural products to Southeast Asia, accounting for 30 percent of all such products to the region, the Philippines is only the sixth largest market for seafood products, accounting for two percent of exports,” the USDA said.

Data from the USDA showed that China was the largest source of seafood products exported to the Philippines, accounting for a 78 percent market share.

This was followed by Vietnam with a six percent market share.

In addition, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan each have a two percent market share in seafood product exports to the Philippines.

“Top US competitors benefit from not only close proximity, but also market access conditions that favor regional suppliers,” the USDA said, referring to the  projected increase in seafood exports this year.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the USDA pointed out that fish is the most consumed animal protein in the Philippines, with annual per capita consumption of 40 kilos, equivalent to a market demand for 4.4 million metric tons (MT), valued at $3 trillion.

“However, total fisheries production has steadily declined, falling to 4.2 million MT in 2021 and is expected to contract further in 2022, which in turn has increased the importance of and opportunities for trade,” it added.

The PSA reported earlier that the 3.4 percent decline in fisheries production last year was driven by lower production in the commercial, marine municipal fisheries , and aquaculture subsectors.

The commercial fisheries subsector registered a volume of production of 871,236 MT in 2021, 10.7 percent lower than the 975,205 MT in the previous year.

Similarly, the marine municipal fisheries subsector posted a 2.6 percent decline in production to 927,703 MT from 952,188 MT in the year before.

Aquaculture farms also registered a 3.3 percent decline in total harvests in 2021 to 2.25 million MT from 2.32 MT in 2020.

In contrast, the inland municipal fisheries subsector posted a 37 percent increase in production to 205,538 MT from 150,073 MT in the previous year.

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