Hainan producers rebrand tilapia as bream to reduce dependency on exports

Published on
July 8, 2021
A tilapia in the hands of a fish farmer.

Producers in one of China’s key tilapia producing regions have moved to reposition the fish in the domestic market with a marketing campaign that presents it as “Hainan Bream.”

Seven tilapia processing firms on the island province of Hainan have been granted the use of the Hainan Bream (the Mandarin word "diao" for bream can also refer to porgy) marketing label from the Hainan Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association (HAPPMA), and will market their fish under the label, targeting domestic restaurants and supermarkets so as to reduce their dependence on exports.

In explaining the switch, HAPPMA said bream and tilapia are part of the same family of fish species. But the shift carries some risk, as Chinese trout producers have been criticized for marketing their fish as salmon.

A marketing campaign supported by local government departments saw the seven firms travel across China exhibiting the new Hainan Bream logo. Tilapia is normally known in Mandarin as “luo fei yu,” but has struggled for market share in China’s giant catering market against imported pangasius and other local freshwater fish.

Hainan-based tilapia farmer and processor Xiang Tai Fishery Co. ships 70 percent of its production abroad but has been keen to reduce its dependence on exports due to currency volatility, higher freight costs, and Sino-U.S. trade turbulence, company CEO Liu Rong Jie said in a HAPPMA statement marking the launch of the bream marketing campaign.

Xiang Tai has expanded its product range to cater to Chinese palates, with pickled fish fillets and “New Orleans taste” – a flavor made popular in China by KFC chicken sandwiches.

The Hainan Bream label launch coincides with efforts by central and local government to make Hainan a vacation destination. Hainan also carries designation as a free trade zone, a further enticement to shoppers and investors.

Photo courtesy of Vasehaus/Shutterstock

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500