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Imported Oysters Growing in Popularity in China

28 April 2015
BordBia

CHINA - The Chinese seafood market is always looking for new products from overseas to attract consumers’ attention, according to Cathy Zhou from the Shanghai Office of Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.

Over the past 20 years, Australian lobster, Norwegian salmon and American lobster have been well established, and more recently Irish brown crab.

People are wondering what could be the next hot spot in the market. Imported oysters may fit the bill.

Oysters are well-known for their superb taste and high nutrition, valued by Chinese consumers.

The quality of Chinese oysters is worrisome because of water pollution.

Therefore, buyers turn their attention to oysters from overseas.

France, New Zealand, Australia and the United States are the main oyster exporters to China.

Imported oysters are sold in high-end gourmet stores, fine restaurants, oyster bars and five-star hotels in first tier cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing, but the market penetration is low and only a small percent of local people eat oysters.

Oysters sell very well at big holidays, such as Christmas, New Year and the Spring Festival.

At present, the import duty of oysters is 14 per cent and VAT 13 per cent in China. It is estimated that every year the volume of imported oysters is approximately 3,000 tonnes.

The price of oysters is especially high in gourmet stores, restaurants and hotels.

At a gourmet store like City Super or Ole’, one piece of oyster costs as high as RMB78.00 (€11.00), while the average cost of one piece of oyster is around RMB50.00 (€7.50). At a five star hotel, one piece of oyster can be sold at RMB100.00 (€15.00).

A recent promotion of oysters in one Shanghai’s restaurants offered French oysters at a price of RMB248 (€35.00) for six pieces.

The retailers and seafood buyers believe that if the oyster price goes back to normal range, sales of oysters will surge. Apart from lowering oyster costs, retailers also predict that oyster gift boxes will bring a new interest to the market, particularly at big holidays.

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