The Rise in Chinese Import of Frozen Squid Amidst Export Decline

Frozen squid

The global seafood industry has witnessed remarkable fluctuations, with China playing a pivotal role in the market’s evolution, especially in the realm of squid products. In 2023, China observed a considerable surge in the import of frozen squid, contrasted starkly by a downtrend in exports. This article explores the intricate dance of import and export volumes, shedding light on the forces driving these changes and the implications for the seafood market.

Unpacking the Import Surge of Frozen Squid in China

China, a central hub for squid production and processing, has experienced a notable uplift in market consumption, attributed to a post-pandemic revival and an uptick in squid production in the Southeast Pacific. Consequently, imports of frozen squid and related products soared by 35.85% reaching 453,400 tons, with the import value climbing to 9.486 billion yuan ($1.318 billion USD), marking a 43.01% increase. This positive growth trajectory underscores China’s expanding appetite for these cephalopods, reflecting broader trends in seafood consumption and trade dynamics.

The Deceleration in Frozen Squid Exports

While imports flourished, exports painted a contrasting picture. In 2023, China shipped 498,700 tons of frozen squid and cuttlefish, valued at 24.131 billion yuan ($3.354 billion USD), marking a significant contraction from the previous year. This 12% dip in volume and 19.84% slide in value illustrate shifting market dynamics, hinting at increased domestic consumption and possibly evolving international trade patterns.

An In-depth Look at Main Import and Export Markets

The landscape of China’s frozen squid trade is complex, with key players shaping the import and export narratives:

  • Indonesia and Peru: Emerged as the top suppliers of frozen squid to China in 2023, collectively accounting for over half of the import volume. Indonesia took the lead in value, while Peru dominated in sheer quantity.
  • Export Destinations: Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and the Philippines are the primary recipients of Chinese frozen squid products. Thailand leads in both value and volume, emphasizing the regional significance of squid in culinary and commercial contexts.

Product Mix: A Closer Examination

The composition of traded squid products reflects China’s strategic position in the global seafood processing industry. Import-wise, frozen cuttlefish and squid constituted 87% of the total value, spotlighting the demand for frozen products. On the export front, processed squid products accounted for 53% of the value, indicating a robust processing sector capable of adding substantial value to raw products.

Navigating Market Challenges and Opportunities

The fluctuation in China’s frozen squid import and export volumes highlights the volatile nature of the seafood trade and underscores the need for agility in response to market changes. For stakeholders, understanding these trends is crucial for navigating the complex seafood landscape, capitalizing on emerging opportunities, and addressing challenges head-on.

The significant rise in the import of frozen squid in China against a backdrop of declining exports in 2023 illustrates the dynamic nature of the global seafood market. These shifts not only reflect changes in consumer behavior and production patterns but also highlight China’s pivotal role in the seafood industry’s future. As the market continues to evolve, monitoring these trends will be vital for industry players aiming to adapt and thrive in this changing seascape.


  1. Why has the import of frozen squid in China increased? The increase is largely due to the rebound in market consumption post-pandemic and higher squid production in the Southeast Pacific.
  2. What factors contributed to the downturn in frozen squid exports from China? A significant increase in imports coupled with weak consumption led to higher inventory levels in the Chinese market, slowing down exports.
  3. Who are the main import markets for China’s frozen squid? Indonesia and Peru are the leading suppliers, with Indonesia leading in value and Peru in volume.
  4. What are the primary export destinations for Chinese frozen squid? Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and the Philippines, with Thailand leading in both value and volume.
  5. What types of squid products dominate China’s imports and exports? Frozen cuttlefish and squid dominate imports, while processed frozen squid and cuttlefish products lead in exports.

The interplay between import and export activities in China’s frozen squid market underscores the country’s influential position in the global seafood industry. Stakeholders and consumers alike stand to benefit from understanding these patterns, ensuring the continued vitality and sustainability of seafood trade channels.


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