Crayfish, scientific name Crayfish, is native to northern Mexico and the southern United States. In the 1930s, crayfish was introduced to China from Japan, and is currently distributed in Hubei, Jiangsu, Anhui and Yunnan in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and has now become an important economic shrimp species in China.
In recent years, crayfish has gone from regional cuisine to the whole country with its characteristics of “suitable for various cooking and catering to different tastes”. With the development of cold chain logistics and e-commerce technology, crayfish has become a phenomenon-level “net celebrity aquatic product”, and the consumption has increased sharply.
In 2020, the total output value of China’s crayfish is 344.85 billion yuan, of which the output value of the aquaculture industry is 74.84 billion yuan, the output value of the secondary industry dominated by the processing industry is 48.01 billion yuan, and the output value of the tertiary industry dominated by catering is about 222 billion yuan. “Hundreds of billions of industries launched by the consumer market”.
Crayfish are easy to breed and have high market acceptance, and have become an important cultured species in China’s freshwater bodies. Crayfish can be cultured in waters such as ponds, rice fields, shoals, and planting areas of aquatic economic plants. In particular, the cultivation of rice fields is very popular, accounting for more than 80%. This farming method can not only reduce shrimp diseases, improve the quality of crayfish, but also play a positive role in stabilizing the rice planting area.
With the continuous expansion of consumer demand, the area and output of crayfish farming in China have been increasing year by year. In 2020, the crayfish farming area in China will be 21.84 million mu, with a total output of 2.39 million tons. The provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) that have reported large-scale crayfish farming have reached 23. At present, China has become the world’s largest producer and consumer of crayfish. Crayfish not only brings huge economic benefits to local farmers, but also plays an important role in promoting the rural economy and improving the rural environment.
The history of crayfish being sought after in China is not long. Initially, Chinese crayfish farming was mainly used for export. In the 1990s, crayfish processing and export enterprises gradually emerged in Jiangsu, Hubei and other places. In 1995, China’s export of crayfish tail meat to the United States reached 35.7 million US dollars, accounting for 80% of the local market share in the United States.
The development of trade has led to the increase of crayfish production and the optimization of breeding technology. The prosperity of the industry has boosted the steady growth of crayfish export trade. At present, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangsu have also become the main export destinations of crayfish. In 2021, China’s crayfish export volume will reach 9,693.9 tons, with an export value of nearly 120 million US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 27.6% and 58.5%.
The main export markets for Chinese crayfish are North America, Europe and Japan, among which the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands are the top three. In 2020, affected by the new crown pneumonia epidemic, international trade situation, changes in the domestic raw material market, etc., the export of crayfish fell sharply until it rebounded again in 2021. From the perspective of long-term development, the export market still has potential.
In recent years, the form of crayfish industry has extended from the initial “fishing + catering” to the whole industry chain including “breeding, breeding, processing, logistics and export”, which has effectively expanded the space for industrial value-added and efficiency. Relevant national policies and industry standards have been released one after another, domestic consumer demand has continued to rise, and the industry situation has been improving. In the next step, relevant management departments, industry associations and enterprises need to work together to provide more driving forces for the development of China’s crayfish trade. The first is to strengthen the monitoring and early warning of technical barriers to trade in aquatic products such as crayfish. Aquatic products and trade industry associations should actively collect trade trends, guide enterprises to make good use of international market trade rules, conduct in-depth research on factors affecting crayfish export competitiveness, and provide enterprises with accurate information effective technical guidance. The second is to participate in the formulation of international standards related to crayfish and improve the right to speak in the application field. Relying on projects such as high-quality development bases for agricultural international trade, speed up the improvement of certification standards for crayfish export bases and build an authoritative national brand. The third is to encourage the research and development of new export products such as crayfish prefabricated dishes, and make good use of international economic and trade platforms such as China International Fisheries Expo to help build the export brand of crayfish prefabricated dishes and improve the export efficiency of crayfish products.