Seafood Export Market Dynamics: US Adjusts Amidst Global Shifts, with China Leading in Import Volume

seafood export market

The US seafood market has seen significant shifts in recent years, with 2023 marking a pivotal year for imports and exports. While the United States set a historical record for seafood imports in 2022, the following year witnessed a slight reduction in reliance on international sources. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US imported 3.1 million tons of seafood, valued at $25.8 billion in 2023, marking a decrease in both import volume and value compared to the previous year. This shift has profound implications for the global seafood export market, particularly for countries like Canada, Chile, India, and notably, China, which has remained a dominant player despite changes in trade dynamics.

The Impact of Decreased Imports on the Global Seafood Export Market

The United States, one of the two largest seafood-importing countries globally, alongside China, experienced a 9% decline in import volume and a 15% reduction in import value last year. This decrease has ramifications for producers worldwide, especially considering the US’s significant trade imbalance in seafood. Various factors contributed to this downturn, including economic conditions, changing consumer preferences, and geopolitical tensions affecting trade with key partners like Russia and China.

seafood export market vs imports market

China’s Prominence in the US Seafood Export Market

Despite an 11% decrease in the quantity of seafood exported by China to the United States in 2023 and a 20% decline in export value, China exported the most seafood to the US, totaling 340,539 tons. This positions China as a crucial trading partner, even as tariffs imposed since the 2018 trade war have impacted the value of these imports. The total tariffs on seafood in 2023 amounted to $348.9 million, with $219.1 million attributed to Chinese goods, underscoring the significant role China plays in the US seafood import market.

US exports and imports

Shifting Export Dynamics: US Seafood Finds New Strength

Conversely, the United States has shown resilience in its seafood export capabilities. In 2023, the US exported 1.3 million tons of seafood, valued at $5.2 billion, marking a modest 3% increase in volume. This growth has elevated the export value of US seafood to 20% of its import value, the highest proportion in three years. Notably, shrimp and salmon continue to lead the imported products, while Alaska cod has demonstrated strong competitiveness in the global market, with significant increases in both volume and value.

Seafood Categories Facing Varied Fortunes

While shrimp and salmon remain the most valuable imported seafood products, other categories like snow crabs and cod have faced declines. Snow crabs, in particular, have seen a 28% decrease in import value despite a 32% increase in volume, highlighting the challenges within specific seafood categories. Conversely, lobster exports have thrived, with an 8% increase in volume and a 16% rise in value, showcasing the diverse outcomes across different seafood products in the US market.


Navigating the Future of the Seafood Export Market

The US seafood market’s evolving landscape, characterized by decreased imports and strategic shifts in export markets, reflects the complex interplay of global trade dynamics, consumer demand, and economic factors. As the US endeavors to balance its seafood trade deficit, the role of key trading partners like China, Canada, and others will continue to shape the industry’s future. With shrimp, salmon, and cod at the forefront of trade discussions, the path forward for the US seafood export market remains a topic of keen interest and strategic importance.

The adjustments in the US seafood export market are indicative of broader trends affecting global seafood trade. As stakeholders navigate these changing currents, understanding the implications of decreased imports, the significance of China as a trading partner, and the potential for growth in exports is crucial for adapting strategies and ensuring sustainability in this vital industry.

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