0333 GMT January 19, 2020
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Ali-Akbar Khodaei added the figure marks a record in Iran’s annual overseas sales of seafood.
According to statistics by Iran Fisheries Organization, he said, the country produced 1.2 million tons of seafood in the year to March 2019.
The official noted that this comes as Iran’s production of aquatic products, during March 21-October 22, 2019, was 15 percent higher than the figure for the 12-month period to March 2019.
The reason for the country’s increased output has been good investment in the fields of cage fish farming and farming sturgeon as well as cold and warm water fishes, Khodaei said.
He put Iran’s shrimp production since March 2019 at 34,000 tons, adding the figure is expected to reach 47,000 tons by March 2020, which would not exceed that of the same period last year.
The official said Iran exported 30,000 tons of shrimp in the year to March 2019, valued at $150 million.
He added the country exported seafood worth $525 million in the 12-month time span to March 2019.
Khodaei predicted that Iran will export seafood valued at $1 billion within three years, given the current growing trend reflected by the country’s production and overseas sales of fisheries.
“In light of the country’s capacities in seafood production, this amount of exports is quite accessible. Iran has a capacity to export shrimp worth $1 billion. To achieve this, we are required to raise our annual shrimp exports to 200,000 tons from the present figure of 30,000 tons.”
China is the main destination of Iran’s seafood products, as half of the country’s annual overseas sales are destined for the East Asian state, he noted.
“We annually sell up to 30,000 tons of shrimp and 50,000 tons of fish to China.”
He added, however, Iran’s seafood imports from China hardly reach 10,000 tons per year.
The official listed other target markets of Iranian seafood as the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
“We also export 5,000 tons of aquatic products, mainly shrimp and caviar, to European countries per year.”
He described Russia as a potentially lucrative market for Iran’s sea products, regretting that, traditionally, Iranians have failed to gain a firm foothold in this market.
A number of obstacles have always hindered Iran’s success in Russia’s seafood market, such as the Russians’ interest in working with major international companies, Khodaei said.
He noted that Turkey has been able to put in a good performance in terms of capturing the Russian market as the country has a concentrated trade structure and its products are exported by one or two companies.
Iran lacks such a structure in its aquatic trade and production sectors, he said, expressing hope that the country’s aquatic products would gradually find their way into the Russian market.