Exporting mud crabs, either farmed or wild-caught to foreign buyers might be your goal in mud crab aquaculture. In 2018, the Chinese consumers reportedly consumed up to a whopping 41kg of seafood per capita per annum. The huge demand in mud crabs in the Chinese consumer market have resulted in the global price increase in crab prices. Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka have reported Chinese buyers that start procuring mud crabs directly from fishermen or farmers with a premium price of 1-2 USD higher than their usual selling price. This blogpost is about general exporting procedures for your crab farm.
The first consideration is to look at the export and import regulations for each particular country. For exporting your products, you will usually need an export permit from the government. Typically the fisheries department will handle all import and export regulations. Your company will usually need to be registered with the local department of fisheries to process your application. In the case of Malaysia, an inspection will be conducted to ensure that your facility is biosecure. After obtaining the necessary permits to export, the next is to comply with the regulations with the importing countries. This differs according to the regulation of different countries and the species of interest. Some countries would require a health certification and proper labelling standards. This is to ensure that the imported goods can be traceable in the event of contamination. The regulations also exist to protect consumers from the irresponsible usage of antibiotics and harmful chemicals. Custom clearance and handling fees are required during the export and import of mud crabs. To drive cost down, exporter and importers usually deal with larger volume (300-500kg) shipment to spread out the cost. Hence, the prerequisite for any exporting and importing business is to aggregate the sufficient supply and demand for the product.
Should you be able to secure a huge volume of supply and demand, the next step is to look at the payment terms of the business. For most of the mud crab trade, it is common for importers to pay a 50% deposit, while the remaining to be calculated upon receiving of goods. Some importers would re-weight the shipment upon arrival and pay the remainder. However, some importers also deduct mortality from the shipment before making payment. It is sometimes hard for the exporter to verify the claims made by the importers on the mortality. As you will most likely be paying cash to fishermen or farmers that provides you with the crabs, any lapse in payment from the importer would result in cash flow issues. Therefore, It is important for exporters to find a trusted importer, where a win-win solution can be obtained for both parties.
The profitability of an exporter is hugely dependent on ensuring the mortality of the goods sent are low. This might be hard to maintain due to the long logistical journey to get the crabs from farm to consumer. Sometimes, you might need 1-2 days before sufficient volume are aggregated to bring down shipment cost. Therefore, it is common for the exporter to have recirculating aquaculture facilities for temporary storage while aggregating volume. Having recirculating systems in exporting facilities have known to improve the profitability of the business, and are widely practised in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
In general, mud crabs are in high demand in the whole of Asia. Large importers of mud crabs include China, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. For the Chinese consumer market, they prefer the smaller sizes mainly 250-400 grams and prefer mature females with eggs. This is probably due to the similarity shared with the Chinese mitten crabs. However, in Singapore and Malaysia, the preference is for the larger crabs about 700 grams and above. In Singapore and Malaysia, the crabs are prized for their large and meaty claws. Consumer needs differ based on the region and it pays to understand before starting the business.
Typical issues in exporting mud crabs to foreign buyers are the lack of legal protection in the event of fraud. Countless incidents of importers failing to pay the remaining balance of the shipment or exporter failing to send goods after receiving the deposit. Other problems include delay in payment resulting in cash flow problems, or even verifying mortality. One of the methods to overcome this issue is to ensure that you meet the exporter or importer that you are dealing with first before going into business. Other methods include tapping onto your local support network to look for good clients for your product. We at RAS Aquaculture are proud to have strong network ties globally for both importer and exporters.
Fulfilling the requirement for exporting mud crab might seem difficult for many, but it can be very rewarding. Apart from exporting your mud crabs, you might also consider selling your crabs locally while aggregating volume for export.