DHL Global Forwarding announced it launched a thrice-weekly charter from Chitose in Hokkaido to Hong Kong, one of its top destinations for seafood products.


DHL noted that for scallop producers, in particular, June typically marks the beginning of a new harvest season that ends in October, but 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 city is the top importer of Japanese agricultural and marine products and a gateway to China which saw overall seafood imports increase by 39% in 2019 to ¥1.6 trillion (US$14.85 billion).


DHL said this service is the only direct air freight service from Hokkaido’s main international airport to Hong Kong since airlines halted international flights from the airport.


“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.


DHL noted that 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 decreased by more than 20% and has been actively pushing its seafood overseas to support its 1.4 trillion yen (US$13 billion) seafood industry.


Japan has seen its year-on-year export of seafood fall from ¥22.9 billion (US$212 million) to ¥14.9 billion (US$138 million) in April this year due to travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.