Victoria Coop Fisheries adapting to Asian market crab preferences
Never judge a book by its cover goes the saying. The same can be said for Nova Scotia crab.
Victoria Coop Fisheries (VCF) has been exporting crab direct to China for the past two years.
Manager of International Sales and Logistics Lan Zheng has been a big part of the Coop’s direct sales success. Part of her job involves educating Asian customers about Canada’s relatively “ugly” crustacean. Zheng was part of a four-woman panel during the March 13 Export NOW Conference in Membertou that discussed exporting successes, challenges and opportunities.
“It’s a cosmetic preference. It’s different. People in China, they love beautiful stuff. When they first see our crab, it’s not pretty on the outside. They are used to the crab from Russia which is red. Other than that, the meat is the same. It tastes the same,” said Zheng.
Zheng also said there is more meat inside the crab harvested by VCF, and unlike Russian crab, is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified.
At the last Hong Kong Seafood Show, Zheng devised a re-processing plan with Chinese customers to commence this summer. VCF will ship cooked crab in the shell to China where the meat will be removed and processed into value-added products, removing the unappealing shell from the equation. Much of the value-added crab will be sold in the Japanese market.
Nova Scotian crab isn’t the only crab judged on appearance. Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has launched an awareness campaign, aptly named “Get Ugly” to educate consumers about what really counts – the flavour and fullness of what’s inside.