Growing opportunities in the Hong Kong seafood market

Hong Kong seafood consumption per capita is 4.1 times higher than the global average

As a leading culinary capital in the Asia-Pacific region, demand for seafood remains high in Hong Kong which is driven by strong consumption of seafood by local consumers and a large number of inbound tourists. Hong Kong had consumed about 505,553 tons of seafood in 2011, equal to around 71.2 kg per person, which is 4.1 times higher than the global average.  As of 2016, there were a total of 24,992 licensed restaurants in Hong Kong. Japanese cuisine restaurants are one of the most favoured cuisines in Hong Kong and stimulate the strong demand for seafood.

The frozen seafood import wholesale industry 

The frozen seafood import wholesale industry consists of several major players:

1、Frozen seafood import wholesalers

Import wholesalers’ business involves various stages including procurement from seafood harvesters and exporters, cold storage, wholesales and distribution. It is common practice that import wholesalers usually participate in both on-trade and off-trade business channels, with customers that span restaurants, hotels, bars, domestic resellers and retailers.   

2、Frozen seafood retailers

Frozen seafood retailers in Hong Kong include supermarkets, grocery stores, public markets and specialty stores.   It is not uncommon that some retailers will sell the original packages of frozen seafood, while some other retailers will re-package the frozen seafood they procure with their own brands. Also, some domestic chain retailers will procure frozen seafood directly from international processors and exporters to ensure a more competitive price.

3、Frozen seafood resellers

Frozen seafood resellers sell to smaller on-trade businesses and off-trade retailers as these smaller establishments may find it difficult to directly procure from import wholesalers due to their low order quantity or lack of business relationship. 

4、On-trade business

On-trade businesses refer to restaurants, hotels, bars and other dining places which often procure frozen seafood from both import wholesalers and domestic resellers. 

5、End consumers

Finally, end consumers mainly refer to household customers, a significant group of consumers for frozen seafood due to its convenience and affordable price.

Frozen seafood are imported from Mainland China and Japan & re-export from Hong Kong to Macau

Mainland China is the largest frozen seafood import origin in Hong Kong with an import value of HK$3,119.8 million which accounted for 23.9% of Hong Kong’s total frozen seafood import value in 2016. Japan is the second largest import origin accounting for 22.7% of total import value in 2016, followed by Vietnam, France and Kenya which together accounted for 10.7% of total import value in 2016.

According to analysis by Ipsos Business Consulting, the historical re-export value of frozen seafood from Hong Kong to Macau increased from HK$239.5 million in 2012 to HK$383.4 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 12.5%. The growth in re-export value was mainly attributable to the increase in Chinese tourists visiting Macau from 7,131,904 in 2012 to 9,579,412 in 2016. Due to the geographical proximity, Hong Kong is an important source of frozen seafood for the growing demand in Macau.

Market value of the industry is expected to increase gradually

Ipsos Business consulting estimates that the total revenue of the frozen seafood import wholesale industry in Hong Kong maintains a steady growth from approximately HK$10,413.1 million in 2017 to approximately HK$11,169.7 million in 2021 at a CAGR of 1.8%.

Market Drivers 

In addition, Ipsos Business Consulting points out market drivers and opportunities as below:

Entry Barriers

The entry barriers for the new market entrants are listed as below:

Factors of Competition

Ipsos Business Consulting has identified that the wholesalers need to equip themselves with the following factors to stand out in the Hong Kong market:

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