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The Financial Express

Frozen food industry hit by COVID-19

| Updated: March 29, 2020 19:16:09


Picture used for representational purpose - Collected Picture used for representational purpose - Collected

The country's frozen food industry, like allied sectors, has started bearing the brunt of the novel coronavirus outbreak as importers are cancelling orders.

A total of 290 import orders of frozen fish worth Tk 4.60 billion have recently been cancelled, according to the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association.

Currently, the sector has unsold fishes worth Tk 9.99 billion.

The association in a letter to the finance ministry on Tuesday said they are yet to estimate the actual losses and profits now as the fish is a perishable item.

Referring to the previous experience, it said the prices of unsold frozen fish dropped by 50 per cent due to the global recession in 2008.

They suggested the government raise cash subsidy to 20 per cent from the existing 10 per cent to help recover their losses.

The exporters also sought interest-free loans as well as interest rebate in order to protect the industry.

According to the association, the sector has been passing through hard times due to a decline in exports.

Although 105 exporters have licences, an estimated 30 to 35 of them can export.

Unavailability of exportable fish, especially shrimp, in the local market is the key reason behind this worst situation in the industry, it mentioned.

Bangladesh earned $472.37 million from shrimp export in fiscal year (FY) 2015-16, $446.04 million in 2017, $408.71 million in FY 2018 and $361.14 million in 2019.

The overall shipment of frozen fish also declined to $500.40 million in FY 2019 from $508.43 million in 2018, according to the Export Promotion Bureau statistics.

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