China’s inland cities developing taste for imported oysters

Published on
October 26, 2016

Growing demand for oysters in mainland China is spawning the spread of Western-style oyster bars, even in the country’s interior.

Mainland Chinese demand for oysters has jumped in the past two years, an import executive at Hong Kong-based importer Jet On told Seafoodsource. He explained how business from the mainland has started to outpace local Hong Kong demand among the company’s customer base.

While China’s first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai are already support several oyster bars and healthy consumption levels for the bivalves, it appears there’s solid demand in the lower-tiered cities for imported shellfish sold at multiples the price of local product.

An upmarket oyster bar recently opened in the southeastern city of Fuzhou, opposite the Shangri La Hotel on Qin Fu Shang Xia Street in the fashionable Xin Quan Nan Lu district. The Aloka seats one hundred customers and features luxury leather upholstery seating and a smart cocktail bar. Staff told Seafoodsource that business is brisk – something proven by the fleet of Mercedes- and Porsche-brand cars parked outside.

The restaurant serves pricy imported French oysters, including Tarbouriech oysters at a remarkable CNY 88 (USD 13.01, EUR 11.90) each and Gillardeau oysters priced at CNY 68 (USD 10.05, EUR 9.20) apiece. The restaurant also serves Ostra Regal oysters at CNY 65 (USD 9.61, EUR 8.79) each and Sentinelle at CNY 58 (USD 8.57, EUR 7.84) each, while at the lower end of the price scale are Namibian oysters and Canadian Fanny Bays at CNY 48 (USD 7.10, EUR 6.49) apiece and Pacific oysters at CNY 38 (USD 5.61, EUR 5.14).

Workers from the nearby Air China office described the CNY 578 (USD 85.44, EUR 78.15) price for afternoon tea for four as excessive and were keen to compare the price of imported oysters with prices for local oysters. Chinese oysters sell for CNY 6 (USD 0.88, EUR 0.81) per piece at Fuzhou’s seafood markets.

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