There are signs that European exporters are turning away from the Chinese market, according to numerous seafood executives interviewed at the 2022 Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, Spain in late April.

Difficulties with port backups due to more-stringent food safety checks and the threat of being banned from the Chinese marketplace if traces of COVID-19 are found on their products have scared some suppliers away from shipping to China. Others are simply realizing higher prices in the European market.

Boris Mirtchev, the director of sales at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-based Ocean Fresh Seafood, said Chinese demand for the company’s lobsters has remained strong, but its exports to China will contract significantly this year due to problems clearing Chinese ports. Ocean Fresh Seafood’s lobster will primarily be directed to buyers in the European Union, the United States, and Canada, Mirtchev said. Domestic prices in North America are now better than those in China, he said. And with more than 40 Chinese cities currently experiencing various forms of lockdowns related to COVID-19, Mirtchev the situation in China is too volatile for comfort.