For scallop producers in Hokkaido, which is a key source for importers of the premium delicacy, June typically marks the beginning of a new harvest season that ends in October. However, since the authorities started imposing travel restrictions due to Covid-19, exporters from the region were unable to fly scallops and other perishables directly to Hong Kong, the top importer of Japanese agricultural and marine products and a gateway to China, which saw overall seafood imports increase by 39 percent in 2019 to ¥1.6 trillion (€13.3 billion).
DHL Global Forwarding launched a thrice-weekly charter from Chitose to Hong Kong. The charter is the only direct air freight service from Hokkaido’s main international airport to Hong Kong since airlines halted international flights from the airport. Japan has seen its year-on-year export of seafood fall from ¥22.9 billion to ¥14.9 billion in April this year.
“As countries took time to recover and travel restrictions remained firmly in place for weeks before being gradually lifted, there was an urgent demand to bring fresh perishable seafood to consumers outside of Japan. As one of the leading international forwarders in Japan’s seafood trade, I am extremely proud that we were able to work with our partners to swiftly organize the first direct freight service from Chitose to Hong Kong. With an export pathway established for perishables, including scallops, sea cucumber and melons, producers in Hokkaido can be assured that their harvests will reach consumers in a timely manner and in their optimum states,” said Charles Kaufmann, CEO, North Asia South Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding and President/Representative Director, DHL Global Forwarding Japan K.K.
For the leading international provider of air, sea and road freight services, scallops make up the largest portion of seafood that it ships out of Japan and primarily from Hokkaido, a top producer of seafood in the country. Japan has seen its domestic consumption of seafood decrease by more than 20 percent and has been actively pushing its seafood overseas to support its 1.4 trillion yen (€10 billion) seafood industry.
In May 2019, DHL Global Forwarding marked its 50th anniversary in Japan with the opening of its wholly-owned office in Chitose. The freight forwarder’s dedicated presence in Hokkaido provides critical customs expertise to local businesses exporting to overseas markets, and guarantee the quality of the seafood by using reliable state-of-the-art cold chain technologies.