New Zealand's largest lobster exporter weighing China's online market

Date: 11 Jan 2019

New Zealand's largest lobster exporter said on 6 Jan it is ready to face Chinese consumers directly by delivering lobsters to people's homes, part of the company's latest strategy to explore China's online market.

As New Zealand's must-eat seafood, Kiwi lobster is considered the sweetest tasting and most succulent variety of lobster available and is highly sought at the Asian market, where it is the "lobster of choice" particularly at the Chinese dinner table.

As New Zealand's largest exporter of live rock lobster, Fiordland Lobster Company Group General Manager Andrew Harvey said on Sunday that the company will explore China's digital channels in 2019.

In 2018, the company's live lobsters were already in new retail stores of Hema, Alibaba's new offline retail store in China, Harvey said, adding that its lobsters will be sold directly through the company's own online connections with Chinese consumers in 2019.

"There's a lot of work to be done understanding what our Chinese customers want from us in this channel, and we're looking forward to it," Harvey told Xinhua.

The Fiordland Lobster Company contracts fishermen suppliers in Fiordland and other parts of New Zealand to provide catches of New Zealand red lobster for export to China and other key markets under the KiwiLobster brand, he said.

"Live southern rock lobsters have been a very traditional business: wild lobsters are caught along remote coastlines, flown to the live seafood markets of China, and presented at celebrations in high end seafood restaurants," he added.

The company started export to China in the 1990s. It currently has annual lobster catches about 1,000 tons, mainly catering the Chinese market. According to Harvey, this is the strict quota set by the New Zealand government and must not be exceeded so as to promote the sustainable development of New Zealand's fishery industry and protect the marine ecosystem.

China is New Zealand's largest export market for lobsters, Harvey said, adding that wealthy lobster consumers are mainly from southern Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou where seafood consumption is traditionally large.

Helicopters and insulated trucks are used to fly live lobster from the depots to one of the company's five export packing factories in New Zealand in order to keep lobsters fresh, Harvey said, adding that kiwi lobsters cannot be bred artificially and must be caught in remote sea areas.

Source: China Daily
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