JD.com commits to sourcing from domestic seafood firms for autumn festival push

With the traditionally busy mid-autumn festival season and National Day approaching, Chinese online retailer JD.com is pledging to give domestic seafood a lift by committing to 200,000 metric tons (MT) of product from local suppliers.

The pledge comes after JD.com's successful cooperation with the key tilapia player Hainan Xiangtai Fishery Co., which has also diversified into pomfret and shrimp for the domestic market and which saw its sales of frozen fillets soar on JD.com earlier this year.

As part of its push, JD.com has offered to work directly with local seafood companies, training them in digital commerce, marketing, and publicity. The company is sharing a template of what it achieved with Xiangtai, using videos, celebrity endorsers, and culinary reviewers to push the company’s pomfret, shrimp, and tilapia.

China’s annual National Day holiday, which kicks off 1 October, has become a major occasion for dining out across the country. With this year’s festivities largely confined to the domestic market (though Chinese tourists are only slowly returning to favorite destinations like Thailand), the country’s major online and offline players are gearing up for a big selling period, with technology playing an increasing role in their efforts.

JD.com back-office staff has been using its capacity to mine data to analyze consumers’ needs and convince them to try tilapia meals, the site’s head of fresh seafood, Li Xiaofei, told customers on a video conference call. 

JD.com has portrayed its race to secure more domestic suppliers as an effort in social responsibility to rescue local seafood producers’ sales from the ravages of COVID, after consumers were jolted this summer when Chinese authorities claimed to have detected the coronavirus on packaging of imported seafood. To reassure consumers, JD.com has come up with what it’s termed the “JD Seafood Safety Alliance,” a food safety code developed in partnership with local industry body CAPPMA as well as the Global Aquaculture Alliance, the Marine Stewardship Council, and the China-based embassies of key seafood exporting nations.

JD.com, which remains in a battle with its key rival Tmall (operated by Alibaba) for product and customers, has long sought to secure imported supplies of salmon and shrimp, which fetches premium prices and commissions. However, like other Chinese seafood distributors, JD.com has been worried about the availability of imported stocks after Chinese Customs stepped up inspections in response to the recent COVID scares.

Photo courtesy of Piotr Swat/Shutterstock


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