Shrimp farmer’s rags-to-riches story rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a grow­ing in­dus­try

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ZHANJIANG ESPECIAL - By XU JINGXI in zhan­jiang, Guang­dong xu­jingxi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

One of the coun­try’s big­gest prawn ex­porters, Guo­lian Aquatic in Zhan­jiang, Guang­dong prov­ince, aims to be a key player in the mar­itime in­dus­try in China, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“We main­tain strict food safety stan­dards and will de­velop new prod­ucts and a pelagic deep-sea fish­ery,” said Li Zhong, chair­man of Guo­lian Aquatic.

Li founded Guo­lian Aquatic in 2001 and pub­licly listed it in 2010.

“It’s a leg­endary story for a shrimp farmer to be­come the chair­man of a listed com­pany that has earned $100 mil­lion in for­eign cur­rency through ex­ports in the past seven years,” said a lo­cal of­fi­cial.

Over the past decade, he has in­vested 10 mil­lion yuan ($1.63 mil­lion) to re­search and de­velop frozen seafood prod­ucts.

He said the com­pany now in­tends to ven­ture into the field of marine bi­o­log­i­cal health­care to fur­ther in­crease rev­enue.

Food safety

The key to suc­cess for the ex­por­to­ri­ented en­ter­prise is “to cre­ate a global rep­u­ta­tion for food safety”, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

In June 2007, the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced new stan­dards that prac­ti­cally halted the im­port of five aquatic prod­ucts from China — cat­fish, basa fish, shrimp, dace and eel. Guo­lian Aquatic was the first Chi­nese en­ter­prise to pass the stan­dards.

In 2009, Guo­lian also be­came the first aquatic com­pany on the Chi­nese main­land per­mit­ted to sup­ply Hong Kong with fresh prawns.

Now, the com­pany ac­counts for 30 per­cent to 40 per­cent of the prawn mar­ket in Hong Kong, Li said.

“We have been de­voted to en­sur­ing the food safety of our prod­ucts. It’s nec­es­sary to strengthen the su­per­vi­sion and in­spec­tion in fac­to­ries,” Li said.

Li said the cen­tral govern­ment must be aware of the im­por­tance of food safety su­per­vi­sion in the up­stream parts of the in­dus­try.

“Shrimp farm­ers still see max­i­miz­ing profit as their top pri­or­ity. Su­per­vi­sion sites should be set up in vil­lages to en­sure no mis­use of chem­i­cals will pol­lute the aquatic prod­ucts at the source,” he said.

Global ex­pan­sion

Trans­form­ing from a mere food pro­ces­sor and ex­porter into an in­ter­na­tional brand, Guo­lian has made great strides in the mar­itime sec­tor through a well- de­vel­oped mar­ket­ing net­work. To ex­pand in­flu­ence, Guo­lian pur­chased the SSC com­pany in the United States in Fe­bru­ary 2012.

Li said he of­ten trav­els to South­east Asian coun­tries, such as Malaysia and Viet­nam, to look for more busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“There is lit­tle space for the ex­pan­sion of coastal shrimp farm­ing. We need to sail fur­ther to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­struct deep-sea fish­eries,” Li said.

In line with the ci­ty­wide strat­egy for the fish­ing in­dus­try, Li aims to re­al­ize this ex­pan­sion by 2020.

Liu Xiao­hua, Party chief of Zhan­jiang, has spo­ken highly of the con­tri­bu­tions made by pri­vate en­trepreneurs to the city’s de­vel­op­ment.

“The out­put value of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions ac­counts for about half of the city’s to­tal,” Liu said.

“We will guide the pri­vate com­pa­nies to be­come high-end in­dus­tries and trans­form fam­ily-run op­er­a­tions into mod­ern en­ter­prises.”

Zhuang Xiaodong, deputy mayor of Zhan­jiang and of­fi­cial in charge of the city’s fish­ing in­dus­try, said the in­dus­try should make three trans­for­ma­tions— from coastal fish­ing to deep-sea pelagic fish­ing; from farm­ing in net cages to farm­ing in the deep sea; from la­bor in­ten­sive to tech­nol­ogy in­ten­sive.

Li also in­tends to build a mar­ket on trad­ing fu­tures of aquatic prod­ucts based on the South China In­ter­na­tional Aquatic Trade Cen­ter, which will start op­er­a­tion on Sept 22.

“I’m bring­ing more so­cial in­vest­ments into the aquatic in­dus­try through the fu­tures mar­ket, where prices can be bet­ter reg­u­lated,” Li said.

Safety in­spec­tion is the key to the suc­cess of the com­pany.

PHO­TOS BY ZOU ZHONGPIN / CHINA DAILY

Li Zhong, chair­man of Guo­lian Aquatic

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