SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Journal of Commerce Online] by Greg Knowler – July 17, 2017
China’s immense consumer demand for fresh products was on display this week when the country’s largest retailer sold more than 140,000 live Canadian lobsters in a single day. In less than 48 hours the lobsters were shipped and delivered.
[Prices were as low as 79 Yuan, or $11.78 per lb. -JS]
In a joint promotion with the government of Canada and Canadian seafood exporters, JD.com sold the lobsters through its e-commerce platform on July 14. The shellfish are part of a new, specially curated selection of Canada’s best products that will be available over time on JD.com.
One of the Canadian vendors that participated in the lobster sale was Nathan Song, director at New Brunswick-based Bay Shore Lobster, who offered nine categories of lobsters, between 1-9 lbs, for the JD.com promotion.
“We sold half of our entire inventory of 1 to 1.25 lb lobsters, far more than what we anticipated,” Song said. “It can be hard for people to understand just how much demand there is in China for fresh imported products. For some, it’s unfathomable. We originally expected our inventory to last through September, but we’ll sell out much sooner than that now. The industry will surely see prices go up.”
Overall interest in Canadian products has grown in popularity among Chinese consumers and JD.com has seen sales soaring as a result. During the retailer’s 2017 anniversary sale in June, 4.5 million shrimp were sold, and for the full year of 2016, Canadian fresh product sales increased by 400.
China has an insatiable demand for fresh food, much of it imported, and the e-commerce channels are leading the way in developing an efficient cold chain that is battling to keep up with the massive demand. Revenue from cold chain logistics in 2016 reached $3.5 trillion.
The lack of industrywide standards in China’s cold chain remains a problem. Up to now, standards have been mostly recommendations from the government, but there is a strong push by the authorities to implement compulsory measures in the storage and transportation of temperature sensitive goods.
The Chinese government has become heavily involved in the sector following a series of food safety scandals and in April rolled out a series of measures aimed at accelerating improvement of the storage and transportation of food.
At the Global Cold Chain Summit in Dalian, Wu Junyang, deputy director at the economy and trade department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said that by 2020, the cold chain logistics industry would have better infrastructure, be using improved technology and be following stricter regulations.
“The supervision of the cold chain industry needs to be stepped up. Standards need to be improved and we are encouraging firms to innovate and use technology to develop their temperature monitoring systems,” Wu said.