Qingdao builds country’s first online commerce hub for seafood

Published on
April 29, 2015

China’s top seafood trading port is building a giant park for online sales of seafood to the domestic market. In a move that could reduce the amount of supply for export as well as dependency on the export-focused processing sector, Qingdao city is building an industrial park that will house processing, training and logistics facilities for the seafood trade.

The Qingdao International Marine Industry Park is a flagship project for Qingdao New Agricultural Alliance, a government entity which has teamed up with a local e-commerce firm. 

That firm is Miao Zai Dao, a brand operated by Qingdao Dadao Brand Management Co. Known for its logo – a cuddly tiger cat – Mao Zai Dao is best known for a range of dried seafood snacks distributed through convenience retailers like 7-Eleven. The firm, which also retails imported salmon as a health food for children and adults, sees “great potential” in online sales to the Chinese domestic market, according to company general manager He Ha. A local logistics firm, Tian Wu, will dispatch seafood sold online on the Miao Zai Dao portal, miaozaidao.com.

Significantly, local seafood firms will be given advice by Mao Zai Dao personnel on marketing and packaging. “The park is important to get local companies used to selling online, it will give them support,” explained Sun Kuifu, president of the Qingdao New Agricultural Alliance. He says 100 local firms have signed up to sell their products online through the park. “International companies will also join us,” he predicts.

Being built on the outskirts of Qingdao, the CNY 30 million (USD 4.8 million, EUR 4.8 million) Qingdao International Marine Industry Park will consist of 5,000 square meters of space and will eventually service 500 local companies, according to the office of the Qingdao mayor, which calls the Park as a “major breakthrough” in efforts to increase the earnings of the local seafood industry. The park is also being supported by China’s commerce ministry, which has provided funds to local governments to help them build “e-commerce demonstration zones” to help local firms to move online. 

A lack of marketing know-how has prevented Qingdao seafood processors from tapping the promising domestic market for seafood. “Qingdao is China’s top seafood port and a big tourist destination but it has no coherent standards for branded seafood and no big nationally known brand,” explained Chen Yi, manager of Qingdao Haiyu Co., an importer of foods and wines that wants to boost sales by matching wine with high-end seafood products.

With export markets often volatile, China’s seafood firms have been more urgently tapping the domestic market through alliances with online retailers — key sales avenues for imported and high-end seafood. Ocean Family becomes the latest seafood firm to link up with an online retailer: Shandong Homey has a partnership with Jingdong while Oriental Ocean has a similar distribution deal with Yihaodian, the online grocer controlled by Walmart. This trend is happening as both online and traditional retailers have sought to increase their logistical capacity, building cold chain warehousing and delivery fleets in particular.

The largest city in southeastern Shandong province, Qingdao is China’s leading seafood import and processing hub but has been keen to move the sector up the value chain. The Qingdao Aquatic Trade and Logistic Center Project has been built at a cost of CNY 10.17 billion (USD 1.64 billion; EUR 1.49 billion), a 400-hectare site that aims to capitalise on China’s increasing demand for imported seafood and make the city the international aquatic trade center for northeast Asia. The center aims to handle three million tons of seafood annually, worth CNY 54 billion (USD 8.73 billion; EUR 7.96 billion).

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