Beijing oyster marketing blitz dented by ban on French Huitres Geay oysters
Chinese authorities have instituted a ban on imports of a prominent French oysters brand, just as marketing of the pricey shellfish picks up pace before Chinese New Year.
China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) circulated a notice on 6 and 7 January barring imports and sales of Huitres Geay oysters following a case of food poisoning allegedly connected to oyster consumption in Hong Kong. A similar notice had been issued by authorities in Hong Kong prior to the government instituting the import ban nationwide.
The ban was implemented just as shopping for Chinese New Year, which falls on 16 February this year, has gone into high gear. Oysters appear to be at the top of the shopping list of many upper-class urbanites in China this year, judging from the numerous luxury vehicles recently parked outside Oyster Talks at the Worker’s Stadium in Beijing’s Sanlitun entertainment district. The oyster vendor also trades as a French-style restaurant, serving European and American oysters, with an average spend of CNY 900 (USD 138, EUR 116) per diner, according to the company’s profile on Chinese dining websites.
Nearby, the V Shine oyster restaurant at the Tong Ying mall sells French oysters at CNY 58 (USD 8.88, EUR 7.44) per piece, with Irish and South African oysters priced at CNY 55 (USD 8.42, EUR 7.05) per piece. For the holiday, the restaurant has put a CNY 799 (USD 122, EUR 103) dinner special on sale on the group buying site run by Dianping featuring oysters, Icelandic crayfish, and Canadian sweet cold shrimp, which sell individually for CNY48 (USD 7.35, EUR 6.16) for six pieces. The dinner normally costs CNY 1,464 (USD 224, EUR 188).
Oysters have also recently been put on the menu at the Atmosphere Bar, the flashy establishment atop the World Trade Center tower in the heart of Beijing’s business district.