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Table 8A. Malaysia: Imports of dried beche-de-mer, 1997 - June 2003 (Q=tonnes; V=RM).


Country

1997

1998

1999

2000

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Australia

-

-

0.24

5331

4

56 261

1

21 488

China PR

376

665 489

242

494 162

209

440 737

13

35 082

Hong Kong (China)

3

23 598

11

88 189

15

113 760

21

313115

India

2

18 446

1

6 000

1

16 340

0.4

19 165

Indonesia

221 1

377 552

129

988 992

110

767 585

114

1 068 041

Japan

-

-

-

-

2

21 904

-

-

Papua New Guinea

0.25

24 860

2

53 601

-

-

4

25 587

Philippines

3

40 758

5

57 094

9

100 377

33

344 436

Singapore

-

-

8

26 132

13

76 575

14

119611

Sri Lanka

2

10 608

4

24 734

0.46

5 993

-

-

Others









Total

959

2 800 628

548

2 131 873

523

2 072 666

246

2 470 515


Country

2001

2002

Jan-Jun 2003

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Australia

-

-

-

-

-

-

China PR

0.2

20 562

13

41 329

-

-

Hong Kong (China)

7

98 198

15

119014

19

24 946

India

2

12 891

2

14 292

2

31 789

Indonesia

53

515 665

42

329 897

20

204 606

Japan

-

-

-

-

-

-

Papua New Guinea

10

120 397

4

143 183

4

43 023

Philippines

24

228 948

58

526 272

27

289 997

Singapore

15

413 052

2

47 320

2

15 000

Sri Lanka

5

38 568

2

11 777

9

49 356

Others







Total

158

1 934 753

160

1 447 853

92

765 233

Source: MATRADE, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Malaysia

Malaysia

The Malaysian population is multi-racial with the Chinese as the second largest group. As of 1994 about 35 % (6.65 million) of the 19 million Malaysians were ethnic Chinese. The country's population has increased since then to 23 million in 2003, but the ratio has declined as the average family size of the people of Chinese origin has reduced. Hence the market for sea cucumber in Malaysia has shrunk. The other races, namely Malays and Indians, do not have a liking for sea cucumber.

Consumption of sea cucumber among the ethnic Chinese in Malaysia is not as high as Singapore or China Hong Kong SAR. The market imports a small volume of fresh/chilled and frozen sea cucumber from neighbouring Indonesia, but dried products are the predominant type. Nearly half of the imported sea cucumber is re-exported to other markets. Imports in 2002 were low at 160 tonnes compared to over 500 tonnes in 1998 (Table 8A). The major share of supplies came from Indonesia followed by China Hong Kong SAR and China PR. Dried sea cucumbers were re-exported from Malaysia to China Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan PC, Singapore and Thailand (Table 8B).

Table 8B. Malaysia: Imports ofbeche-de-mer (live/fresh/chilled/frozen), 1997 - June 2003 (Q=tonnes; V=RM).

Country

1997

1998

1999

2000

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Hong Kong (China)

-

-

-

-

1

5 663

-

-

Indonesia

-

-

13

24 676

17

52 693

23

66 841

Japan

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Philippines

0.04

40

-

-

-

-

-

-

Singapore

-

-

-

-

-

-



China PR

-

-

-

-

4

6441

9

23 707

Others

0.16

11 433

-

-

-

-



Total

0.20

11473

18

30 727

26

127 260

32

90 548


Country

2001

2002

Jan-Jun 2003

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Hong Kong (China)

1

-

-

-

-

-

Indonesia

-

17 566

0.2

5 376

1

11 595

Japan

-

-

-

-

-

-

Philippines


-

-

-

16

57 563

Singapore







China PR

-

-

-

-

-

-

Others







Total


1 17 566

0.2

5 376

17

69 158

Source: MATRADE, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Malaysia.

Table 8C. Malaysia: Exports ofbeche-de-mer (live/fresh/chilled/frozen), 1997 -Jan-June 2003 (Q=tonnes; V=RM).

Country

1997

1998

1999

2000

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Brunei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Singapore

-

-

0.3

1 400

4

30 366

3

38 625

Hong Kong (China)







1

19 500

Total

-

-

0.3

11400

11

72 969

4

58 125


Country

2001

2002

Jan-June 2003

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Brunei

-

-

-

-

-

-

Singapore

-

-

-

-

-

-

Hong Kong (China)

8

154 208

12

221 503

-

-

Total

8

154 208

12

221 503

-

-

Source: MATRADE, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Malaysia.

Table 8D. Malaysia: Exports of dried beche-de-mer, 1997 -Jan-June 2003 (Q=tonnes; V=RM).

Country

1997

1998

1999

2000

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Brunei

0.48

28 050

-

-

-

-

0.05

9 000

Hong Kong (China)

7

134 200

15

268 280

13

234 872

82

1 378 602

Singapore

14

189 838

39

343 120

34

227 774

71

654 521

Taiwan PC

1

5 100

32

238 161

79

670 557

1

16 208

Thailand

-

-

-

-

3

20 384

-

-

Others



49

338 070

131

1 461 342



Total

25

376 499

136 1

190 931

260

2 614 929

181

2 361 856



2001

2002

Jan-June 2003

Q

V

Q

V

Q

V

Brunei

-

-

0.3

30 882

-

258

Hong Kong (China)

100

1 900 286

74

1 386 411

3

311

Singapore

47

745 184

36

454 261

16

226 798

Taiwan PC

18

175 647

67

511 562

46

320 309

Thailand

-

-

11

71 220

-

-

Others







Total

403

4 874 554

312

3 496 130

178

2 546 178

Source: MATRADE, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Malaysia.

Local consumption is related to the festive season and occasions (weddings, birthdays, etc.) due to the price factor. Households buy processed/soaked products particularly during the Chinese New Year for the family dinner. These are sold at traditional wet markets, some supermarkets and also at Chinese wholesale shops which sell other dried fishery products and Chinese herbs.

In Malaysia the import and domestic markets are dominated by Chinese traders.

Other Markets

Sea cucumber is relatively less popular in Japan, Korea Rep. and other Southeast Asian countries. In Japan, sea cucumber is not a preferred species. Thus the annual import is limited to 3-4 tonnes of frozen and dried products.

Korea Rep. imports 15-20 tonnes of dried sea cucumber annually and the preferred species are curryfish imported from Singapore, China Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan PC. However, the market demands premium quality products.

In Thailand, preference for sea cucumber again is limited to the tourism industry. The Thai people seldom like this species.

In the western markets, namely the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, etc., sea cucumber is imported for the ethnic Chinese population living in these countries. However, it is popular or used mostly by the elderly and middle aged people. Sea cucumber does not have much appeal to the younger Chinese generation living in these countries. Thus consumption in general is declining.

Product preference and price trends

In terms of market preference and commercial value, sea cucumber species are classified into four categories:

Due to the large market size and varied purchasing power, China PR imports a wide variety of sea cucumber. However, the mainland Chinese market is increasingly demanding good quality products irrespective of the species and consumers are willing to pay better prices for quality products.

Consumers in China Hong Kong SAR have preference for good quality sea cucumber as for those in the southern provinces of mainland. China Hong Kong SAR imports all sizes and species, but the local market generally takes large and medium sizes products. The remaining is re-exported, mostly to China PR. High value best quality species are sold through retail specialty shops in consumer packs. During the Chinese New Year, expensive gift packs of sea cucumber are exchanged by the rich class and large Chinese companies.

For the Taiwanese, the coldwater species are the most preferred, as market preference is more for large size spiky sea cucumber. Taiwanese consumers are extremely quality conscious, hence the market demands high quality products.

Singaporeans' preference for sea cucumber is slightly different to those in other Chinese markets. Good quality smoked, cleaned, dried sandfish is the preferred species; retailers are the main outlets for this product and households are the main user of this product type. Consumers in Singapore do not like calcium coated sea cucumber. Reprocessed wet products are sold to local markets in insulated boxes using medium quality and low quality products.

The Malaysian market imports medium quality and medium size sandfish and teatfish for local Chinese consumers. Relatively good quality processed products are available in Chinese specialty shops; local supermarkets sell smaller size wet (processed) products, whereas the traditional wet market sells low grade products.

Price trends

Prices of dried sea cucumber in the international (Table 11) as well as domestic markets vary according to the species (high, medium and low value), sizes and quality of the species. While sandfish fetches the highest prices, the lowest are offered for lollyfish.

Over the decade the ranking of the species has also changed. Some medium value species have moved to the category of high value species as supplies of sandfish, the traditional high value species, are getting scarce due to low supplies.

Table 11. Prices of sea cucumber in the international market, October 2003.

Products

US$/kg

Market

Origin

White teatfish, skin-on, 3-5 pc/kg




Holothuria fuscogilva





- Grade-A

23.00

c&f South East Asian Ports

South Pacific

- Grade-B

13.00

c&f South East Asian Ports

South Pacific

Prickly Redfish, 6-15 pc/kg




Thelenota ananas

15.00

c&f South East Asian Ports

South Pacific

Black teatfish, 3-5 pc/kg





- Grade-A

18.00

c&f South East Asian Ports

Australia

- Grade-B

10.00

c&f South East Asian Ports

Australia

Stonefish

18.00

c&f Singapore

Indonesia

Sandfish, Grade A

48.00

c&f Singapore

Indonesia


10-30 pc/kg

56.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

15-40 pc/kg

40.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Greenfish 50-120 pc/kg

25.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Stichopus chloronotus




Surf Redfish, 15-35 pc/kg

11.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Actinopyga mauritiana




Tigerfish, 25-55 pc/kg

3.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Brown Sandfish, 25-110 pc/kg

5.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Bohadschia marmorata




Curryfish

19.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Stichopus hermanni




Elephant Trunkfish, 3-8 pc/kg

5.00

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Lollyfish

1.50

c&f Singapore

South Pacific

Source: INFOFISH Trade News, 1 October 2003.

In the China Hong Kong SAR market (Table 12), the average import prices of Australian origin sea cucumber have been the highest in recent years due to the species and quality factor. A similar trend is also observed for the sea cucumber originating from Pacific countries.

The China Hong Kong SAR market also controls international market prices of sea cucumber. However, quality is the main factor that determines prices of sea cucumber in general.

Outside China PR the difference between the import and retail prices varies widely for all categories of sea cucumber. For example, in the Malaysian market the retail price of quality dried sandfish is around US$ 110/kg. The retail price of processed frozen wet sea cucumber is US$ 23-24/kg.

A similar trend is also noticed in the other markets in Asia.

Table 12. Hong Kong: Average import prices of sea cucumber, 2001 -January/June 2003 (US$/kg).

Country

2001

2002

January - June 2003

Australia

28.05

30.25

41.62

Indonesia

4.12

4.07

4.02

Papua New Guinea

9.73

13.27

14.34

Philippines

6.85

6.45

7.23

Singapore

9.54

9.97

6.86

Sri Lanka

7.36

7.48

6.39

Madagascar

11.10

7.55

5.08

South Africa

4.28

2.50

2.20

Mozambique

28.21

11.46

9.94

Tanzania

10.71

7.61

5.17

Fiji

10.11

10.02

7.41

Solomon Islands

7.35

6.19

4.41

India

25.86

22.82

-

Maldives

7.19

3.64

5.54

Source: Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Dept., China Hong Kong SAR.

Conclusion

References

FAO. 1990. The fishery resources of Pacific island countries, Part 2: Holothurians, by C. Conand. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper No. 272.2. Rome. 143pp.

INFOFISH. 2003. INFOFISH Trade News, 1 October 2003.

FAO. 2003. Commodities trade and production, 1976-2001. Available in: Fishstat Plus (Universal software for fishery statistical time series) ver. 2.30. http://www.fao.org/fi/statist/fisoft/fishplus.asp and CD-ROM of April 2003. FAO Fishery Information Data and Statistics Unit. Rome.

Ferdouse, F. 1996. Improved Utilization and Marketing of Marine Resources from the pacific: Study Number 1: Beche-de-mer and Sharkfins and Other Cured Marine products Purchased By Chinese/Asian Traders. SPC Beche-de-mer Information Bulletin, 113-9.


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