Increased access to seafood in the world's most populous country made this year's China Seafood & Fishery Exposition (CSFE) the biggest in the event's 23-year history.

China’s endless appetite for more seafood, especially imported seafood, drew a record crowd to the Qingdao International Expo Center early this November, with visitor attendance reaching more than 33,000, with exhibitors filling 10 halls across the three-day event.

“The dynamics of the China seafood market haven’t really changed," said Peter Redmayne, president of Sea Fare Expositions, the show’s developer and organizer.

"Seafood is the protein of choice in the world’s most populous country, and the growing middle class, which now is 400 million people by some estimates, has more money to buy seafood.

“But what has changed is the industry’s ability to get seafood to consumers. Recognizing the growing demand for seafood, the Chinese government has slashed tariffs on most imported seafood and eliminated burdensome inspections and regulations on importers. In addition there are more direct international flights to second and third tier Chinese cities, greatly improving distribution efficiencies,” he said.

“Finally, there is a retail revolution in China that is increasingly the result of huge e-commerce companies that can deliver a live lobster to hundreds of millions of people in 30 minutes or less.

“The increase in the size of the show is because seafood is a growing industry in China. More buyers in cities outside Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou want to buy directly from primary producers,” says Yang Hong, general manager of Beijing-based Sea Fare (China) Ltd.

“Every year we see companies from new countries at the show," said Jennie Fu, the show’s marketing and sales manager.

"This year, for example, we saw companies from Brazil. They have learned they can make much more money selling live and frozen whole lobster to China instead of selling frozen lobster tails to the U.S. It’s a trend we expect will continue around the world."

The show featured 1,545 exhibiting companies from 51 countries, with total representation from exhibitors and visitors totaling 100 countries.

The exhibit space was 45,000 square meters, a 22 percent increase on last year's show and making it the largest seafood trade exposition in the world, according to Redmayne.

Next year’s CFSE will again be held at the Qingdao International Expo Center from Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

IntraFish is the Official Media Sponsor of CFSE. Read our show blog here.