December 4, 2019

E-commerce platforms are playing an increasingly important role in China’s seafood sales. As available statistics show, the country’s online seafood sales reached 27.126 billion yuan ($3.8 billion USD) in 2018, which accounts for 1/3 of its total sales of fresh food. And during the first half of 2019, sales has jumped by 22.9% compared with the same period last year, to 17 billion yuan ($2.4 billion USD).

Shrimps, crabs and fish are the top three seafood items regarding sales value last year, while shellfish has outrun others relative to growth rates. And the country’s online seafood sales are expected to further rise with local consumers attaching more importance to domestic seafood and companies working harder in promotion. For example, this year China’s tilapia industry started a nationwide marketing campaign.

Among all regions in China, Jiangsu, renowned for its crayfish and crabs, beat others last year with online seafood sales, reaching 6.8 billion yuan ($965 million USD), 1/4 of China’s total. Meanwhile, Shanghai, Shandong and Liaoning have also captured attention thanks to great sales value which exceeds 10% of the country’s total.

Data show that most seafood buyers come from second-tier cities. In 2018, their purchase value reached 14.4 billion yuan ($2 billion USD), which constituted 53% of the total. And an increasing number of buyers in smaller cities are buying seafood online. Statistics point to a 24% increase in their purchases within this first half-year.

The prospect of this virtual market seems rosy, and China’s new generation shows a preference for such a convenient seafood purchase. However, there are some hindrances too important to be ignored such as a lack of standards, insufficient branding, inadequate cold chain facilities as well as great wastage rates and correspondingly high costs. More must be done for long-term development.