On­line mar­ket fast-tracks seafood to China

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By EDDY LOK for China Daily

Gfresh, one of the world’s largest on­line trade plat­forms, has signed an agree­ment with an in­spec­tion com­pany to fast track seafood ex­ports to China.

The agree­ment with Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and In­spec­tion Group Canada (CCIC) was signed on June 10 at the 2016 BC Seafood Expo Tradeshow in Courte­nay, Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia.

Gfresh’s CEO and co-founder, Anthony Wan, said the agree­ment would give Cana­dian ex­porters us­ing the on­line plat­form the “quick­est and eas­i­est trade route into China yet’’.

The agree­ment means sup­pli­ers on Gfresh will be given as­sur­ances that their prod­ucts are pass­able by customs be­fore leav­ing their Cana­dian de­par­ture port. It also gives Chi­nese trade part­ners the quick­est and most di­rect trade route pos­si­ble by re­duc­ing the time it takes to get seafood from sup­pli­ers into China’s boom­ing mar­ket.

Gfresh was launched in 2014 to con­nect Cana­dian sellers of live seafood di­rectly to more than 2,500 whole­sale Asian buy­ers, mostly in China, which has sur­passed the US and the Euro­pean Union as the world’s largest seafood mar­ket.

Last year, Gfresh recorded $100 mil­lion in trade, Wan said on the sec­ond day of the 11-day BC Shell­fish and Seafood Fes­ti­val in Co­mox, on Van­cou­ver Is­land. The fes­ti­val started on June 9 and ends on June 19.

“When we first thought about the ven­ture, we won­dered why it was that there was no on­line plat­form for buy­ing and sell­ing live seafood. It is ridicu­lous you can move al­most any other type of com­mod­ity be­tween coun­tries and it just ar­rives but you can’t do that with live seafood,” he said.

CCIC is head­quar­tered in Van­cou­ver and has of­fices in Toronto, Mon­treal and Cal­gary, and it spe­cial­izes in pro­vid­ing in­spec­tion and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ser­vices to cus­tomers.

Wan said CCIC Canada will work with Gfresh to de­velop pre­ship­ment in­spec­tion for seafood ex­ports, which would ex­pe­dite and lower customs in­spec­tion charges in China.

He said that now China’s customs agents de­tain and in­spect 25 to 50 per cent of fresh seafood en­ter­ing China, which can take up to five days and cause fi­nan­cial loss and re­duce the fresh­ness and qual­ity of the prod­uct when re­leased.

China im­ported about $8.4 bil­lion worth of fish and seafood from around the world over the last few years, and an in­creas­ing amount comes from Canada, the sixth-largest sup­plier of seafood to China, in­clud­ing live oys­ters, prawns, lob­sters and both fresh and smoked sal­mon and other species, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada.

China is Bri­tish Columbia’s sec­ond most-im­por­tant seafood mar­ket af­ter the US, which has his­tor­i­cally been the sec­tor’s pri­mary ex­port mar­ket. In 2014, BC ex­ported $981 mil­lion in seafood prod­ucts to 74 mar­kets, many in Asia, an in­crease of 10 per­cent from 2013.

The quick­est and eas­i­est trade route into China yet [for Cana­dian seafood ex­porters].”

Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada, China is show­ing an in­creas­ing ap­petite for farm-raised sal­mon, with ex­ports from BC now more than dou­bling over the pre­vi­ous high in 2012.

BC set a record for ex­ports of farm­raised sal­mon last year, and de­mand for sal­mon raised in BC has never been higher, ac­cord­ing to Jeremy Dunn, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of BC Sal­mon Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “If we had more fish to sell, I be­lieve that mar­keters would be sell­ing more to China be­cause of the im­prov­ing Chi­nese econ­omy,” Dunn said.

BC also is on track to in­crease ex­ports this year with its shell­fish farm­ing industry, which pro­duces scal­lops, oys­ters, mus­sels, geo­duck, Manila and other clams, cur­rently a $37 mil­lion industry, ac­cord­ing to Lara Greasley of Co­mox Val­ley Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Tourism.

BC is the lead­ing oys­ter-pro­duc­ing prov­ince. It pro­duces 87 per cent of clams cul­tured in Canada, and fish farm­ers us­ing hatch­eries, ma­rine farms and land-based aqua­cul­ture sys­tems pro­duce Atlantic sal­mon, Chi­nook and Coho sal­mon, sable fish, trout, steel­head and stur­geon.

The on­line seafood mar­ket­place de­signed specif­i­cally for cross-bor­der busi­ness-to-busi­ness seafood sales has caught on with buy­ers and sellers of lob­sters, Dun­geness crab and abalone, ac­cord­ing to Wan, who said the com­pany is work­ing to ex­pand list­ings of other species.

“With seafood, the seller wants to see the pay­ment up­front, but the buyer wants to see the prod­uct first. Gpay (a ser­vice fa­cil­i­tat­ing pay­ments from its cus­tomers’ bank ac­counts to in­ter­net mer­chants) ef­fec­tively elim­i­nates the risk for both par­ties,” Wan said.

He said Gfresh is an in­de­pen­dent third party to a trans­ac­tion, and when the buyer and seller come to­gether, they agree on an ac­cept­able mor­tal­ity thresh­old for their seafood of be­tween five and 25 per­cent.

“Our goal is to be the dom­i­nant mar­ket­place for live seafood glob­ally. It is all about growth for us,” Wan said, adding that Gfresh has ground in­spec­tors around when boxes of live seafood are opened on de­liv­ery.

He said that if a de­liv­ery does not ar­rive on time, Gfresh is pe­nalised. “The penalty keeps us hon­est and ef­fi­cient, we are there to re­ceive it as soon as the cargo lands,” Wan said.

Gfresh has limited its op­er­a­tions to Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Guangzhou, where it has set up track­ing sys­tems that guar­an­tee prod­uct de­liv­ery within seven hours of its ar­rival. With a staff of more than 150, Gfresh plans to ex­pand to 20 Chi­nese cities and fo­cus on in­creas­ing sales from Canada.

Wan and Gang were among in­vestors, busi­ness­men and of­fi­cials and other in­vited guests to the BC Shell­fish Fes­ti­val, marked by non-stop food tours, tast­ings, demon­stra­tions and com­pe­ti­tions.

At the open­ing of the fes­ti­val, BC’s agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, Norm Let­nick, told China Daily he was pleased with the great amount of in­ter­est shown by Chi­nese for Cana­dian prod­ucts when he was in China. He said his min­istry has re­sponded by tak­ing steps to im­prove trade be­tween the two coun­tries.

SARAH SMITH / FOR CHINA DAILY

Gang Yang (right), pres­i­dent of China Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and In­spec­tion Group Canada (CCIC), signs a strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive agree­ment with Anthony Wan, co-founder of Gfresh, the first seafood e-com­merce plat­form and one of the world’s largest on­line mar­ket­places, to fast track seafood ex­ports to the Chi­nese mar­ket dur­ing BC Shell­fish and Seafood Fes­ti­val in the Co­mox Val­ley.

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