Challenges of seafood logistics – how to master them?
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Challenges of seafood logistics – how to master them?

The global seafood market is expected to grow to become nearly a US$200 billion industry within the next six to seven years, according to expert estimates. Proportionate to its volume, the modern seafood delivery network is expansive and intricately spread all across the world, facing new challenges in an ever-changing world. 

What exactly are these complexities and challenges facing the seafood shipping industry and the logistics providers that support it? Let's try to highlight five major ones.

Challenges of seafood logistics – how to master them?

Cost of transportation 

For many customers, one of the primary challenges of shipping seafood is related to cost. Delivery by air is obviously faster but is an expensive option. Ocean freight delivery is much cheaper but takes a lot of time to reach the destination. 

However, with the increase in fuel prices, the rate of ocean freight has been repeatedly re-evaluated upwards. This has a significant impact on the final seafood prices for consumers.

According to the expect estimates, the transport of seafood to the other side of the world is the highest cost in logistics.

Transportation delay  

Seafood deliveries are highly time-sensitive as shipping frozen fish is the most delicate thing to spoil.

Any unexpected delays during transportation can cause the packages to defrost, thereby reducing the freezer life span. Sometimes, it can easily lead to food poisoning or toxicity.       

Even after optimized routing, ocean freight delivery may take longer than expected due to congestion at ports, natural disasters, social uprisings, and serious equipment shortages. 

Thus, when it comes to export fish it has to take the major precaution to ship seafood or frozen fish from one country to another to avoid delays.

Politics and geopolitical tensions

Rising geopolitical tensions in different parts of the world impact the security of the seafood shipping industry. These conflicts cause disruptions in ocean trade routes and port activity leading to supply chain modifications and increased seafood prices.

The Red Sea conflict is a striking example. Attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea have hit world trade. Between November and December 2023, the number of containers travelling through the Red Sea each day fell 60 percent as container service operators were forced to change routes bypassing the African continent.

The military conflict in the Red Sea has a direct impact on the European seafood market raising logistics costs and leading to price rise for Asian fish products shipped to the European market.

According to some sources, the cost of transporting a refrigerated container by sea from the Korean port of Busan to Europe increased between 45 percent and 50 percent in January compared to the end of December 2023.

Overregulation, both at the international and national levels, adds additional costs and complexity to the seafood shipping industry.

Lack of traceability

Once seafood has been properly stored on vessel, keeping track of it is a major challenge. 

Traceability has become more prominent in the past few years due to increased media attention to the legal and social risks associated with certain seafood supply chains.

 Governments across the world have also introduced strict traceability requirements for seafood logistics providers. In addition, private logistics companies are increasingly committed to complying with the necessary sustainability protocols.

Improper and inadequate cold storage

For logistics companies that deal with fresh seafood products, cold storage is of utmost importance. One has to remember that almost half of the foodstuffs in the developed countries are commercialized only under refrigerated conditions.

Compared to other products that are transported in a refrigerated condition, fish have a very short shelf life. To prevent it from getting spoiled, markets demand that their properly refrigerated product be delivered to them within seven or eight days of being caught. This not only demands a robust cold-storage mechanism to be put in place and appropriate control of temperature, but also careful planning of the routes so that the delivery can be achieved within the allotted time.

Seafood logistics is undoubtedly a complicated process. It involves many stakeholders and is technology-intensive. It is also vulnerable to challenges that are often beyond human control.

Difficult weather and environmental conditions, shortages in global shipping capacity, coupled with fluctuating volumes of supply make seafood logistics especially challenging.

Coming from several fields, some challenges become more pressing while others lose their impact. Obviously, geopolitical tension is increasing its influence on seafood shipping industry now.

However, in any case, these challenges need the reinforcement of cooperation between stakeholders to deal with them and to adapt quickly.

SEAFOOD EXPO EURASIA is a new international seafood event aimed to connect fishing companies and fishery-related communities, including those involved in seafood logistics, from around the world and help them work more closely together, putting aside the changing political environment.

Among the participants of SEAFOOD EXPO EURASIA there will be specialists who understand the causes of challenges in seafood logistics and know the remedies to meet them.

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