SEAFOODNEWS.COM translated by Amy Zhong – June 28, 2018

On June 17, the opening ceremony was held for the Seafood Festival of Canada in Jinan city of China. This event is said to be hosted by Canada’s seafood giant, Ocean Choice International (OCI), Qingdao Meichu Food and the Inzone. During the festival, locals can get a taste of wild-caught and quality seafood from Canada like northern prawns and yellowtail flounder.

The seafood products are all from renowned areas in the North Atlantic. They are frozen quickly at a very low temperature before being transported to China through cold chain logistics at -18℃. Then Meichu packs the seafood in accordance with domestic requirements before they are available in Inzone supermarkets and stores.

During his interview with the Seafood Guide, Qiao, the general manager for Meichu, said OCI is an influential fisheries company in Canada that owns abundant marine resources and the largest fishing quota there. Inzone is a giant in China’s large retail business and it provides good sales channels, while Qiao’s company is experienced in seafood processing and retail, targeting end consumers.

Their cooperation is believed to solidify the development of Canadian seafood in this huge market and also provide better seafood to domestic consumers with increasingly high demand. Meichu has worked together with OCI to launch a new brand called the Ocean Diary & OCI. They recently signed a strategic cooperation memorandum with the Inzone.

Dale Oldford, the vice president for OCI, flew to China for the ceremony. He told reporters that OCI is in possession of six advanced fishing vessels and six modern processing plants now. It is able to catch about 50,000 tons of seafood like northern prawns, lobsters and yellowtail flounder every year. These products are sold to more than 30 countries like those in Asia, Europe and North America. To ensure seafood freshness, OCI has taken measures like quickly freezing seafood harvest and cooperating with a large shipping company during cold chain delivery.

OCI is a company that takes sustainable development seriously. All its seafood are caught in the wild and 85 percent has gotten MSC certification. Meanwhile, it has realized the huge potential of the Chinese market and shifted its focus to this lucrative market. The company’s sales in China has doubled in the past six years and China is the only market where it provides all available products, which sell quite well. OCI intends to be more influential in this market through this cooperation.

Inzone is said to be a large retail group owned by Lushang, a state-owned enterprise. It has 166 large supermarkets and 200-odd convenience stores in provinces like Shandong, Hebei and Henan. Its annual sales exceeds 40 billion yuan (~$6 billion USD). According to its deputy director for purchasing, imported seafood has become increasingly popular among Chinese consumers. Inzone, a leading retail company, is working hard to introduce and promote imported seafood in China. It hopes consumers can get access to better and more healthy seafood. This cooperation is also a step that Inzone has taken to develop its supply chain of fresh food abroad.

During the seafood festival, Canadian seafood prepared and distributed to consumers for tasting on the spot. It intends to attract more consumers and encourage purchasing through this kind of experience. Inzone is to integrate more high-quality foreign seafood and then boost their sales in its supermarkets and stores.

Meichu is not only experienced in seafood processing and retail but it is also a strategic partner of England’s Tesco and Germany’s Aldi. It is also China’s largest processor and trader of Norwegian Arctic cod. About five years ago, it started the seafood business in China, sourcing and then introducing high-quality seafood to China from all over the world. Now its products are available in around 1,000 Chinese supermarkets and stores. It has also become an important supplier to new retailers like Hema Fresh.

The festival has proven a good opportunity for all three parties. There is great market potential in China’s second-tier and third-tier cities for them to exploit with locals gaining in prosperity. Traditional supermarkets need to upgrade their seafood sales, so Meichu, with its seafood processing and retail experience, plans to develop these cities and close the gap between potential demand and actual seafood supply. This cooperation is just a starting point for Meichu and it plans to promote more activities so as to lure Chinese foodies with increasingly deep pockets.