PRODUCT diversification and local market expansion have been Central Seafoods Inc.’s (CSI) key strategies to sustain its export business amid the huge declines experienced by processed food export sector.

From the usual canned crabmeat, pasteurized canned crabmeat, frozen shrimp and scallops, the company has widened its product line and introduced the frozen peeled and headless shrimp, frozen scallop meat, among others, said owner-exporter Nelson Bascones.

He also created a local brand FoodPhil to cater to the Philippine market, where he now allots between 60 percent and 70 percent of the company’s product lines for domestic consumption.

“All export sectors, except electronics, are feeling the softening of the global market and while we wait for the global market recovery, especially the economies of our trading partners, we turn to our strong domestic market to cope with the losses,” said Bascones, who is also the president of Philexport Cebu.

He noted that from less than one percent in the past years, the share of the local market in terms of sales now stands at 10 to 12 percent. He said the country’s strong domestic consumption is driving the demand for export quality products.

A huge drop of 30 percent, though, has been registered in the exports of processed foods, said Bascones.

Demand for crabmeat, for instance, has slowed down, especially in the US, which is CSI’s key market. Bascones said Americans have found alternatives for crabmeat, which are much cheaper than the exports from the Philippines.

“There’s a slowdown in consumption spending in some of our trading partners. While we have the best quality, the market is looking for cheaper alternatives,” he said.