Interview: Malta’s bluefin tuna farmers eye expansion in China market
The Chinese market is “huge and important” with infinite opportunities, Charlon Gouder, chief executive officer of the Federation of Maltese Aquaculture Producers, told Xinhua in a recent interview. On Nov. 3, on the eve of the opening of the CIIE, Malta and China signed an agreement on bluefin tuna exports, opening new opportunities for Maltese tuna producers to…
VALLETTA, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — Maltese aquaculture producers are excited at the prospect of introducing their bluefin tuna, which they prefer to call the Ferrari of the sea, to the Chinese market.
The Chinese market is “huge and important” with infinite opportunities, Charlon Gouder, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Federation of Maltese Aquaculture Producers, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Reflecting on his organization’s presence at the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE), held in Shanghai in November, Gouder said he was satisfied with the warm reception accorded to Maltese bluefin tuna. Describing the experience as “lovely and wonderful,” he highlighted the positive response from hundreds of Chinese visitors, who sampled the delicacy at Malta’s stand during the event.
“Everyone was impressed with the quality, the redness and the delicacy of bluefin tuna. This is what we want to send to the Chinese market,” he said. “The way the Chinese market has reacted to Maltese bluefin tuna fills us with a lot of courage and sense of success.”
On Nov. 3, on the eve of the opening of the CIIE, Malta and China signed an agreement on bluefin tuna exports, opening new opportunities for Maltese tuna producers to enter the Chinese market. “The authorities in China were very demanding because they requested the highest standards and we have passed that test,” Gouder said.
Malta’s aquaculture industry started with seabass and sea bream and gradually moved towards bluefin tuna in the early 2000s. Malta’s bluefin tuna production capacity tuna stands at around 20,000 tonnes a year, making the country one of the largest producers in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, according to Gouder.
Emphasizing the need for a mutual learning process between Malta and China, Gouder stressed its imperative role in propelling the development of Maltese bluefin tuna in the untapped Chinese market of over 1.4 billion customers.
Despite the limited production of Maltese bluefin tuna, Gouder affirmed Malta’s readiness to provide both frozen and fresh products to China. “We are committing ourselves that China will have a special place and we will adapt ourselves to the market, as long as the Chinese market reacts positively to our product,” he said.
Though Malta and China are very far from each other, thanks to a good connection by air, “within 24 hours, the fish caught in the Mediterranean Sea can arrive on the tables in China,” he said.
“Malta and China have a long history of a very good relationship and now we can extend this into a commercial relationship, not only for bluefin tuna but also for other seafood products,” he said. Enditem