Seafood treats just a tap away

In­ter­net com­pa­nies en­tice con­sumers, small busi­ness with aquatic prod­ucts im­ported from abroad

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By CHI­NADAILY

Yao Boda was born on the small is­land of Tong­tou near Ningbo, a coastal city in eastern Zhe­jiang province, and grew up catch­ing shrimps and crabs.

As a child, he watched his grand­fa­ther head off to work as a fish­er­man, brav­ing the whims of the East China Sea. Now, 30 years later, Yao is rid­ing a dif­fer­ent wave and us­ing the e-com­merce boom to trans­form the tra­di­tional seafood sec­tor.

Last year, he set up Shang­hai Im­port Fresh Co Ltd, which spe­cial­izes in im­port­ing seafood from coun­tries such as Ja­pan and Nor­way.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, it was im­pos­si­ble for small busi­nesses to im­port seafood from for­eign sup­pli­ers be­cause they had to buy be­tween 20 tons to 25 tons of pro­duce at a time,” Yao, 39, said.

“Most small seafood busi­nesses, or restau­rants, are look­ing for or­ders worth sev­eral thou­sand yuan a time.”

Spot­ting a gap in the mar­ket, his com­pany rolled out the online plat­form jink­oux­ian.com, which acts a “mid­dle man” for the in­dus­try’s army of fam­ily-owned ven­dors.

“Now they can place or­ders online at jink­oux­ian. and we will source the prod­ucts di­rectly from for­eign coun­tries or the ma­jor dis­trib­u­tors,” Yao said.

“With long-term part­ners in dozens of coun­tries, we can help small busi­nesses ac­cess the best seafood at the low­est prices.”

Since Shang­hai Im­port Fresh is pri­vately owned, there are not de­tailed fi­nan­cial fig­ures. But so far, its online plat­form jink­oux­ian. has re­ported sales of 2 mil­lion yuan ($314,000) for the past four months.

With num­bers like these, it is hardly sur­pris­ing that this sec­tor of the mas­sive e-com­merce mar­ket is prov­ing pop­u­lar as China’s online shop­pers show a grow­ing ap­petite for im­ported fresh prod­ucts.

This has re­sulted in the rapid ex­pan­sion of busi­ness to busi­ness, or B2B, sites, and spe­cial­ized food plat­forms for con­sumers.

“The emer­gence of online plat­forms is start­ing to boost the ef­fi­ciency of global sourc­ing and de­liv­ery ser­vices,” Zhang Xian­gli, an e-com­merce an­a­lyst at iRe­search Con­sult­ing Group in Bei­jing, said.

One of the largest sites is 1688.com, a B2B owned by In­ter­net gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd.

Un­like jink­oux­ian.com which only deals in seafood prod­ucts, the plat­form sells an ar­ray of im­ported fresh food, such as cher­ries from the United States and beef from Aus­tralia, to around 120 mil­lion small and medi­um­size busi­nesses, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“Our aim is to build 1688.com into the world’s largest dis­tri­bu­tion plat­form for im­ported prod­ucts,” Wu Minzhi, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent

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