Sea cucumbers, state-owned firms stand out in ranking of China seafood brands

Published on
March 18, 2015

As China’s seafood sector struggles for brands to match international peers, a respected local food industry forum has published a list of what it says are the top 10 Chinese seafood brands, based on value and scale of distribution.

China Grocer Information Network (Shipin Shangwu Wang Zixun Pindao), which is an information and trading portal for food producers, names Zhangzidao as the most valuable national seafood brand. But aside from shrimp specialist Guolian, the other brands on the list are either state-owned fishing monoliths or firms producing for the high-end and gift segment, such as sea cucumber vendors like Homey and Bangchuidao.

China’s seafood sector remains largely fragmented and state-owned giants have lacked branding know-how. But there is much to play for as convenience-focused seafood brands begin to appear in a market hitherto dominated by fresh sales and wet markets. A distributor of shellfish as well as fish products, the brand, produced by Zhangzidao Group Co, sits atop the list on the basis of being the country’s largest mariculture breeding base and a leading distributor with national supply chains.

Both private and state owned firms have however been seeking to diversify from a focus on Chinese specialities like sea cucumbers by tapping into online and mass market demand for fish and dried seafood snacks.

In second place the list names the CNFC brand, produced by the China National Fisheries Corporation: The brand has been selling frozen filets as well as imported shrimp and high-end species in Chinese supermarkets. Founded in 1984, CNFC is the nation's largest state-owned fishing conglomerate, and is “China’s offshore fishing leader and has the largest fishing fleet,” according to the ranking.

The top two ranked brands may be well known to overseas industry watchers but some of the other brands listed in the China Grocer Information Network’s top 10 will be less so. In third and fourth place, respectively: the Pearl brand, produced by China's Zhoushan Fishery Marine Fisheries Co., and the Bangchuidao brand, produced by Dalian Bangchuidao Seafood Co.

Pearl has become synonymous with low-priced dried fish fillets and other similar snacks sold in convenience stores and railway stations across China. Officially a “China Famous Brand,” the Bangchuidao brand, produced by Dalian Bangchuidao Seafood Co.,  it is one of China’s largest producers of sea cucumbers.

Founded in 1962, China's Zhoushan Fishery Marine Fisheries Company ranks as a China Famous Brand and a “Zhejiang Province Famous Brand”: These are among a string of socialist-style accolades handed out by default to state companies. But importantly, it’s also a division of China Agricultural Development Group Corporation, a cash-rich management body overseeing government owned agriculture and fisheries enterprises.

State-owned giants aren’t known for new and innovative products. However, an interesting recent innovation by the Yuan Yang (also known as Ocean) brand — owned by yet another large state-owned firm, Liaoning Province Dalian Ocean Fishery Group Co. (also known as Liaoyu) — is a heat-treated fish meat snack stick distributed nationwide as a packaged snack in the style of meat sticks sold by the big pork companies to consumers. As the sticks are heat-treated, refrigeration isn’t an issue.

Crayfish-centred Lu Long Xiongdi (also known as Lu Long Brothers brand), is a brand produced by Ningbo Lu Long Xiongdi Seafood Co. Ltd. in the east coast city of Ningbo, which has become a hub for processing crayfish farmed in eastern China, as well as tuna caught by Chinese fishing companies. Also on the east coast, the sixth-ranked Zhong Yang brand, produced by the Jiangsu Ocean Group (also known as Jiangsu Yang Group Co Ltd) focuses on fish and canned consumer seafood products.

Shrimp and tilapia are the focus of the Guolian brand (No. 7), produced by Zhanjiang Guolian Aquatic Development Co. Ltd. in Guangdong province.

Homey brand, produced by Shandong Homey Marine Development Co, founded in 1993, is yet another Chinese Famous Brand and a high-tech enterprise in Shandong province. Shandong Homey Aquatic focuses on breeding and processing sea cucumbers and jellyfish with distribution in domestic and overseas markets. Homey, like Zhangzidao, has also invested in cold chain distribution of frozen food products. Also based out of Dalian, the Sanshandao brand is produced by Dalian Sanshandao Seafood Co.

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