Crayfish catching on in Chinese microbrewery scene

Published on
August 31, 2020

Jing A, a microbrewery and restaurant chain in Beijing, is often regarded as one of the hippest hang-outs in the Chinese capital, regularly drawing a large clientele of the city’s well heeled. A sure sign that life is returning to normal in the city – after a long dry period due to the coronavirus – is the Cajun Crayfish Festival that recently took place at Jing A.

The festival drew hundreds to the bar, with attendees telling SeafoodSource it felt as if the event symbolized the easing of Beijing’s lockdown nerves. The day-long crayfish festival, organized to mark the one-year anniversary of one of its outlets, drew punters who were served the boiled crayfish after paying an approximate CNY 60 (USD 8.40 EUR 7.20) for a standard Jing A brew.

In recent years, roast fish and boiled or roasted crayfish have become summer specials with outdoor diners flocking to cafes and restaurants to eat and drink beer. Demand and pricing for carp and catfish have risen, according to Wu Li, an analyst at Tian Feng Securities, and share prices for several Chinese aquaculture firms have soared in recent months, in part due to a perceived peak in demand from summer diners.

A Sino-U.S. venture, Jing A opened its doors in 2013 as a wave of other microbreweries –including the Beijing-based Great Leap – started to draw a range of local and U.S. investors, as well as interest from European ale producers.

China’s beer market – valued variously at USD 85 billion and USD 100 billion (EUR 71 billion and EUR 83 billion) by different consultancies – has veered towards premium beers in recent years, with the mass market “Snow” joint-venture brand between multinational SABMiller and state-owned China Resources Beer (by 2010, the biggest brewer in the world in volume terms) shuttering some of its breweries as it has moved up-market.

Judging by the rush at Jing A, consumer sentiment appears to be recovering in China. China’s economy will be the only major economy to grow in 2020, according to the World Bank, which projects an eight percent contraction in gross domestic product for the U.S.A.

Yet China’s growth is also happening through an easing of the government’s long-held target to reduce leverage in the economy, with overall debt in the second quarter rising by eight percentage points to 268.4 percent as a proportion of GDP. Corporate sector debt increased from 162.6 percent to 166.2 percent as corporates issued bonds to get out of the COVID-triggered slump.

Photo courtesy of Jing A

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