The Gfresh guide to exporting seafood
Welcome to Gfresh’s guide to to exporting seafood! We hope you find this guide helpful make your exporting efforts as successful as possible! So, let’s dig right into it!
Welcome to Gfresh’s guide to to exporting seafood! We hope you find this guide helpful make your exporting efforts as successful as possible! So, let’s dig right into it!
The paperwork has to be one of the most frustrating parts for any business looking to go overseas. You have to think about the formalities of the origin country, the destination country and all of the freight and airline stuff in between. If you don't know what you're doing, its easy to get lost in it all and miss out on the world's buyers. Our guide is designed to show you, in the simplest way, the basic paperwork that is essential for any business looking to export their seafood overseas. If you use these basic pointers as a reference guide, the issue of paperwork will become a thing of the past. Every country has different regulations and depending on your export destination the rules can differ slightly too.
The guide below is applicable for seafood exporters in Australia looking to sell their produce in what is currently the world's largest and fastest growing seafood market, China. Please note: all live produce in export are treated as 'Companion Animals'. There are 5 simple steps to completing the basic paperwork needed for exporting live seafood to China from Australia.
If you're a commercial seafood exporter in Canada, it's a very, very simple process to get the right paperwork in order to begin exporting internationally. The global market sees Canadian live seafood as a premium product and are willing to pay premium prices. If you follow the simple guidelines on how to do it, becoming a successful international exporter will be a breeze.
As with all fresh and live seafood imports into China, the regulatory body in charge of overseeing trade is the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (AQSIQ). The AQSIQ has an established trade relationship with Canada and works in agreement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to provide the framework for seafood exporters from Canada to work within. The paperwork and certification necessary is designed to be easy to attain and completed; the Chinese market wants Canadian produce and it only benefits suppliers to provide it.
With the focus on China, we've put together the few basic steps below for you to get started with the paperwork and on your way to exporting.
Canada and China have worked together as trade partners for a long time, with many exporters finding success in supplying their premium produce into the Chinese market. As expected with live and fresh seafood, there are regulations and paperwork that need to be complied with. Breaking into the booming Asian market (particularly China) will be a walk in the park if you follow the basic outline above. The steps are simple and if done properly, you'll be well on your way to becoming a lucrative global seller.
Ready to start exporting? Gfresh is the online marketplace for seafood. Become a seller on the platform and connect to many buyers around the globe.
Like any export, the process of getting your seafood from the United States to China requires some paperwork. Depending on what seafood you're exporting, China and America both have different standards which need to be conformed to. It's common sense to know that your best bet is to provide as much accurate information as possible, and only work with reliable, licensed importers. But when it comes to seafood, nothing can be taken for granted and it's important that you follow the correct steps and have your paperwork verified before goods even leave the ground.
For American exporters, the regulatory body that oversees export of seafood is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - http://www.noaa.gov/). On the Chinese side, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ - http://www.aqsiq.gov.cn/), has a specific set of regulations and lists that need to be adhered to for successful entry of American seafood into the country.
The buyers are waiting for your premium produce - let's make sure you get it all the way to them with no hassles. Before getting into the details there are a couple of things you need to keep in the back of your mind whenever exporting to China. First of all, the regulations can change frequently, depending on the specific circumstances. Second, work with business partners experienced in the Chinese market and who have provided evidence of license to import; this way you'll avoid any pitfalls of miscommunication and confusion once your produce has landed.
Now, to get that burden of paperwork out of the way - this simple guide will give you a basic process outline of the paperwork needed to get started exporting seafood from America to China.
USA and China have worked together as economic/trade partners for years, with many exporters successfully supplying their premium produce into the Chinese market. However, the paperwork and regulation does exist, and the only way for you to break into the growing Asian market is to follow the basic outline above and conform to all of the standards set by the regulatory authorities mentioned. If you do these things, paperwork will become a breeze and you'll be well on your way to being a lucrative global seller.
Ready to start exporting? Gfresh is the online marketplace for seafood. Become a seller on the platform and connect to buyers around the globe.
New Zealand's Free Trade Agreement with China (NZCFTA - 2008) has meant a huge increase in opportunity for businesses looking to export and simplified the process to do so. But that isn't to say that you can simply put your produce on a plane and send it to China without due diligence to the formal processes.
While the the FTA with China has made it easier for suppliers of fresh and live seafood, there are still certain aspects of paperwork that need to be covered. Keeping up communication with your importers is a good way to ensure your produce passes through the correct channels. However, by completing the basic paperwork correctly, you'll eliminate the risk of any hiccups and establish your business as a reliable global exporter. Below, we've outlined the basic paperwork needed for New Zealand suppliers looking to export into China.
If you don't have a freight-forwarder already, the best step forward in selecting an airline is through the International Air Transport Association (IATA - www.iata.org). IATA will be able to advise you on the best airlines for your specific scenario and help you with your selection and registration with that airline. As seen above, it's easy to get the paperwork done for your export to China. However, even though the process has been minimised by the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement, the correct certification still needs to be attained.
As with any export, Chinese customs rely on strong regulation and the channels for distribution are only accessible by following their rules. That being said, by following the basics outlined in this guide, you'll find trading to China simple and your business will be well on its way to becoming a global exporter. Ready to start exporting? Gfresh is the online marketplace for seafood. Become a seller on the platform and connect to many buyers around the globe.
Labeling is an important aspect to international export and one that is often overlooked or taken for granted. When distributing your produce into foreign markets, particularly China, the correct labeling and packaging are often crucial factors that can affect the success of your business. For Chinese customs, incorrect labeling, no matter how minor the error, could result in packages being denied access.
Yeah, we know it’s a nuisance, but by following this guide on how to label (and how not to label) your packages for Chinese export, you’ll easily bypass any potential issues in the transportation and distribution process.
First, let’s look at the mandatory items that need to be included in your labelling:
Now that you know the absolute ‘musts’ to include in your labeling, let’s have a look at the best practices and things to avoid doing.
As mentioned previously, the most important thing when labeling for Chinese export is the language. All labels need to be in both English AND Chinese. If you’re in New Zealand you’re required to apply for label verification through the China Inspection and Quarantine (CIQ) offices and include your Certificate of Origin (as explained in Chapter 1) - a process that can take up to 2 weeks. But, exporters in USA, Canada and Australia are able to source their own translators for labeling. Label translations into Chinese should only be done by a reliable service, as even the slightest errors can result in packages being disallowed passage through customs. The labeling on packages needs to be clear, specific and written on at least 3 external sides of each box/carton (preferably the sides and top), leaving no room for misinterpretation. In the case of live and fresh seafood, this is especially important as cargo requiring varying handling and storage methods can be compromised by poor care. For example, notes such as “Perishable” and “This Side Up” should be clearly visible.
Another neat idea to get around any language barriers is to use symbols or signs which are globally standard for seafood trade.
In recent years, The Government of the People’s Republic of China has put a ban on the use of adhesive labels on packages in the interest of environmental concern. Despite some companies still using adhesive labels, the safest bet as a new-comer to the global export game, is to use waterproof ink directly onto your shipping containers. It’s effective and you’ll avoid giving Chinese customs any reason to interfere with your premium produce.
To sum all of this up, labeling is important, and in many cases can decide the ultimate fate of the shipments you send overseas. Making sure that you include detailed information and instruction as clearly as possible, will ensure that your products are safe in transport and arrive at their destination the way you intend and your buyers expect.
Customs and airlines are tough when it comes to packaging and packing materials. Exporters can’t afford to have produce returned - repacking can result in excessive delays, added expenses, loss of quality and potentially even the loss of a sale.
The packing of your goods is the last safeguard against compromising your produce in the transport process. If produce arrives at a lower than expected quality, your reputation as a premium supplier will suffer. That doesn’t mean you should reinforce your boxes with steel. Heavy packages means higher shipping costs, so light weight materials are the way to go.
Before getting into the details, let’s go over some basics. For airlines carrying live seafood, packaging must not adversely affect human consumption and must be able to withstand leakages, vibration, shock, stacking and changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure - all of which are unavoidable risks in global transport.
As a supplier of premium seafood, you know your products best and it’s good practice to assume that no one in the supply chain is as familiar or careful with the produce as you are. This means sparing no expense when it comes to things like insulated packaging or lining boxes with absorbent pads to prevent bacterial growth.
Below is outlined a basic packaging instruction for live seafood, covering both the materials used as well as an appropriate packing method. However, outside of the information covered here, it’s important that you double check with your airline or freight forwarder on your particular species, as some airlines have specific requirements that differ from others.
Container Type/Material: Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) - Effective and Affordable
Appropriate For: EPS is commonly used for shipping live seafood such as crab, lobster, abalone, eel and shellfish.
Outer Packaging: Corrugated Waterproof Fibreboard box - These are the most cost effective EPS containers and are appropriate for a variety of products. Ventilation holes, where required, are permissible at each end, near the center of box tops, so that exuded fluids in the transport process remain contained.
Inner Packaging: One Polyethylene liner of at least 75 micron thickness - for some species which require ventilation, the inner lining may be omitted if absorbent material is provided within the packing. If you’re planning on exporting live swim/fin fish, they must be contained within 2 polyethylene inners, goosenecked and tied, or sealed otherwise, to ensure liquid does not escape.
Absorbent Material: Absorbent pads need to be placed at the base of boxes (and sides of bags where necessary). Fluid can often be a bed for bacterial growth which will compromise the quality of your seafood.
Ice: If ice is to be used as a refrigerant, it must be in a separate polyethylene bag of at least 75 microns thickness - gelled ice packs are a preferred option in this instance.
Adhesive Tape: Adhesive tape is necessary in sealing your EPS box - 4cm minimum must encircle the lid, securing it to the base of the box, and two strips must go around the width of the container at approximately ⅓ spacing and midway down the length of the box at each end.
1. Place absorbent material at the base of the box
2. Insert polyethylene inner liner - goosenecked and tied or overlapped, folded and taped closed
3. Seal lid to the box with adhesive tape as described above
This is a reliable packaging method for a broad range of seafood products. However, as previously mentioned, the best way to make sure you do it right is to consistently double check with your specific airline and/or freight forwarder. Follow these simple steps and produce will be ready to travel and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that it’s going to arrive in the same premium condition as it left.
With so many different players and languages spoken, how is it possible for everyone involved to communicate, understand and accept their individual responsibilities in the seafood export chain? The answer is, Incoterms. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) first published an official list of Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) in 1936 with the intention “to alleviate or reduce confusion over interpretations of freight terms, by outlining exactly who is obligated to take control of and/or insure goods at a particular point in the freight process.” Basically, from the exporter perspective, Incoterms are used to make sure that you don’t incur any unnecessary costs.
The most up to date list of Incoterms was published in 2010 by the ICC and consists of 11 basic terms (see below for a quick reference) - though each is more complex than first meets the eye.
Some examples of common Incoterms include:
- DDP (Delivery Duty Paid)
- DAT (Delivered At Terminal)
- DAP (Delivered At Place)
For example, DAT means that the seller/exporter covers all of the costs of bringing goods to the customer, including:
- Export fees,
- Destination port charges, and
Now, imagine if you mark an export contract with DAT, then neglect to understand that insurance needs to be organised and agree on a sale price that doesn’t account for this cost. Your business will be left liable and any damage to products in transit will come at a financial loss, as your selling price could be lower than the overall cost of exporting the goods - not to mention the hit your reputation will take from a dissatisfied buyer. The best way to learn the ins and outs of Incoterms is to arrange e-training through the ICC website (http://www.iccwbo.org/products-and-services/trade-facilitation/incoterms-2010/) and then order your own complete set of Incoterms from the same site.
Now that you’ve found a buyer (or many buyers) of your quality seafood (or they found you through the Gfresh marketplace!) you’ll need to pull together a commercial invoice to send with your goods.
There are a few value adding factors that an accurate commercial invoice can provide:
- Payment: Officiates release of funds to you as the seller
- Customs: The destination country requires it to clear goods through customs
- Liability: It can be a key supporting document for any insurance claims
- Future Business: You can use it in the future as support for foreign credit risk insurance claims
An accurate commercial invoice is crucial to successful export transactions; it provides relevant information to the buyer, the freight forwarder, both local and foreign customs, insurance companies and the banks of both you and your buyer/s.
An inaccurate or improper invoice can cause confusion, delays, disagreement and in general a bad reputation for your export business going into the future.
We’ve included below a checklist of things to include on your commercial invoice as a reference to start:
These are the ‘musts’ of your commercial invoices, though some additional information can be included depending on the specific context of your transaction. Some examples could be the method of payment and, if you are an exporter from the United States, an Harmonized System or Schedule B Number and a Destination Control Statement. The list we’ve provided is a thorough starting point, so don’t skip any steps when constructing your own document. Below we've provided a basic commercial invoice template for your convenience. As mentioned through previous chapters, the more information provided, the better.
Pricing is one of the most important aspects of exporting seafood into a foreign market.
Your pricing strategy needs to be adjusted to suit export markets for a few reasons:
- Foreign markets may have different conditions
- New costs could be involved when exporting
- Different quoting methods could be used in unfamiliar markets
- Changing currency values have an affect on what prices should be used overseas
With a focus on the Chinese market, we’ve put together some of the most important factors in working out a pricing strategy.
Calculate Your Costs - There are certain expenses that are going to come up before you even start the export process. Some examples you may include as costs prior to export are:
You’ll also need to consider the expenses your individual supply chain will incur like shipping to port of departure, taxes, customs and broker fees. Calculating your costs can be a complicated process depending on your business model. To find more information on your specific business’ export costs, there are a variety of free sources online which provide in-depth cost calculations.
Understand The Export Market - Competitors, cultural differences and your product’s existing reputation are all things to know about. For instance, in China, imported seafood from areas like USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is prized, and Chinese consumers are willing to pay the price for such premium produce.
Pricing Is Marketing - The price of your produce isn’t just the amount of money you’re charging. It’s a powerful marketing tool when entering a foreign zone like China. A technique many seafood exporters to China have found success with is a Low Price Option.
Low Price Option - An effective way of entering a market quickly to undermine your competition. You’ll attract a greater number of buyers in the short term, and even though initial profit margins will be lower, in the long run you’ll sell a greater volume and gain a stronger reputation.
Once you’ve decided on your price position strategy, the practical side of pricing comes into play. There are a variety of methods businesses can use to calculate their optimal selling price, such as Cost Plus Pricing, Top Down Pricing and Marginal Costing/Pricing. Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses depending on your individual business model, so it’s best to get some help and try a few different methods of calculation.
No single pricing strategy works for every business. Use these guidelines as reference to develop a plan that works best for you, and be flexible so that in the future, when you’re an established exporter, you can reassess your strategy and change it where necessary.
If you’ve read our export guide, you may have reached this point and found that there are still some fairly important questions left unanswered. ‘How do I find buyers?’ ‘How do I get paid?’ ‘How can I be sure my products make it all the way to the buyer in good condition?’
This is where we can help.
Finding Buyers: Gfresh is the largest online marketplace for fresh seafood. By selling products through Gfresh you have access to an extensive and growing network of wholesale seafood buyers in China and further abroad. Along with access to these buyers, Gfresh also helps businesses with their marketing efforts in the export market. Sales teams on the ground in China handle communications with buyers and our online platform makes it easy for sellers to manage their own business and showcase their premium products.
Customs and Logistics: After you’ve established a connection with a freight-forwarder of your choice, Gfresh handles all logistics and customs, and our own fleet of refrigerated trucks ensure the final delivery of goods.
Quality Inspections: Our ground teams open every order, filming and thoroughly checking to make sure the product’s premium quality was maintained in transit. This protects against false claims and ensures that buyers are happy with the final product they receive.
Payments: Gfresh uses its own secure payment system, GPay, to guarantee reliable transactions. Once someone buys goods online, funds are held in escrow and released once the order is received in the export market. Further, if you’ve got multiple buyers, Gfresh can aggregate the transactions into one. This means you don’t need to worry about chasing up individual payments and paperwork.
Dedicated To Helping You: As an exporter through Gfresh, every question or problem is able to be solved by one of our Business Development Managers (BDMs). Gfresh’s BDMs are completely dedicated to helping businesses realize their exporting goals.