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Farmed Hairy Crabs a Big Hit Online




On September 23, 2017, many Chinese online-shopping sites such as and Alibaba launched sales promotion events to mark the beginning of the season for hairy crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) from famous lakes such as Yangchenghu in Jiangsu Province.  [Shrimp News: I could not find crabs on’s website?]


Boasting fast delivery that guarantees freshness, domestic e-commerce giants have driven up sales for crabs and fueled the formation of a market worth billions of dollars, backed by the rising spending power of China’s middle class.  However, competition is also on the rise, which some claim has harmed quality.


Alibaba said that during a pre-sales event, it sold 140,000 hairy crabs within a minute, which was a new record for China’s fresh grocery industry.  It said that China’s hairy crab market is now worth $15 billion and that Yangchenghu crabs have become a national brand.


On September 11, 2017, launched a pre-sales event and sold gift cards for two million crabs within the first 24 hours. said it would deliver the crabs to more than 300 cities within 48 hours and 150 cities within 24 hours.


Dai Zezhi, a hairy crab farmer based in Xinghua, Jiangsu Province, said over the weekend that sales had been “quite robust” as demand peaks before the National Day Holiday and Mid-Autumn Festival.  “Compared with the same period of last year, sales of hairy crabs have soared, and there has been a rising trend for several years,” Dai said.


Another Jiangsu-based crab farmer said, “Consumers and merchants from neighboring cities have been rushing to purchase Yangchenghu hairy crabs over the last two days, and we have sold about 1,500 kilograms so far, a significant increase over the sales volume last year.”


Hairy crabs from other lakes in Jiangsu and other provinces have been filling the massive market.  Online shopping sites have signed up about 17 lakes that produce hairy crabs.


Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent internet analyst, said, “E-commerce has helped local crab farmers reach a massive market that was previously out of reach for them.  The demand comes mostly from the fast-growing middle class.”  But more importantly, with various sales promotion events, the online shopping sites have “really stimulated consumption, which is the key to our country’s economic growth as we move away from relying too much on [investment and exports] to spur growth,” Liu said.


Sources: 1. Global Times.  E-Commerce Boosting Crab Sales.  Wang Cong and Li Xuanmin.  September 24, 2017.  2. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, September 27, 2017.

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