Maine lobster’s popularity in China isn’t a secret, it isn’t news and if you’re in the seafood industry, as we are, you’re probably tired of hearing about how the Chinese market is continually booming, growing, increasing, rising or whatever adjective you want to assign to its phenomenal ability to buy so many of these crustaceans.
But there’s more to it than the simple fact that it’s a delicious product.
In 2007, less than US $1 million worth of Maine lobster was imported to China, then in 2013, US $17 million worth and in 2014, figures shot up to around US $90 million. In 2015, the trend spiked, with imports of close to 2 million Kg in just the last quarter of the year.
These numbers are obviously impressive and there’s no sign of China’s lust for this delicious crustacean slowing down. Though the question of why still remains.
There are a few stand out points that answer the question easily for me; Maine lobster is awesome, it’s nutritious, it can be eaten with ice cream (?) - the last one may be subjective. But there are 3 underlying reasons specific to China's buyers that make it such a highly desired seafood.
China’s love of all kinds of lobster begin with the symbolic representation of the dragon. In Chinese culture, dragons are considered to embody good luck and traditionally are emblematic of ‘machismo’. Lobster is the culinary equivalent of the dragon and in China, the old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is taken quite seriously. So eating lobster is said to bring high energy, longevity, respect and prosperity. On top of that, they turn bright red when cooked - which is a major lucky colour for the Chinese.
The Maine lobster’s claw-less cousin, the spiny lobster, are a less common product to come by if you’re a Chinese seafood buyer. And for that reason they fetch a much higher price. So Maine lobsters, even though still sold from anywhere between US $50 - 100 per Kg, are the species available to a larger number of buyers.
China’s affluent middle class is growing rapidly - it’s currently at around 300 million people. But more than this, they’re tastes are becoming more sophisticated and therefore more discerning when it comes to buying quality produce. So spending money on luxuries like premium imported Maine lobster is an important part of showing affluence and maintaining a diet of high quality foods.
So now you know the reasons for Maine lobsters being so popular in China, why not get started selling some online?