NEW Zealand's aquaculture and fishing industries are looking to China and its vast population to boost business. Several fish farming companies have already joined forces to market New Zealand seafood to the Chinese mainland.
Trade Minister Mr Groser says five of the aquaculture companies on the trade mission, including Sanford and Sealord, which has a large production centre near Grimsby in the UK, have agreed to collaborate in marketing one particular species, mussels in China under a single brand name.
The trade missions will exhibit at the World Expo at Shanghai, where the Government has spent more than NZ $30 million setting up this country's pavilion.
At the moment sales of New Zealand fishery products to China are fairly modest, accounting for no more than 15 per cent of total seafood exports, which are worth around NZ $500 million But with Chinese prosperity increasing, the country is acquiring a taste for Western style fish.
China is already courting northern hemisphere fish producers such as Norway and Iceland in a move for supplies. Currently the most valuable New Zealand export seafood products are farmed Greenshell mussels, hoki, rock lobster, squid and orange roughy. Farmed King Salmon is a rising star. International sales have grown from $28 million in 2005 to $44 million in 2008.
Further evidence of closer fishery co-operation between the two countries has come with the news that senior Chinese government officials from China have been in the country looking at how New Zealand manages food safety risks in seafood. They have been attending a series of seminars, visiting shellfish farms and processing sites to see how food safety standards are put into practice.