Eating fish of all different varieties in Japan has been an age-old dining staple, though their Asian neighbors in China had never really developed a similar reputation when it came to any particular seafood. That appears to be changing with news that lobster imports from the United States into China have reached record levels, with no indication that this vast country is reaching the fatigue stage when it comes to its new meal options.
A decade ago, the idea that lobster would make such a breakthrough would have been considered laughable, but over the past seven years, it’s been the American lobster industry that’s chuckled all the way to the bank. Two years ago, a total of 13.1 million pounds of lobster found its way onto Chinese shores, with that number increasing to 14 million in 2016. In the latter case, that meant that a new threshold of over $100 million in sales was the end result.
For the past 40 years, the economics of China have become more Americanized, even if the political system remains as rigid as ever. Due to that development over four decades, a middle class within the country has grown while the same economic level has been diminished within the United States.
Given the increase of income for people working for international and home grown companies, individuals who had once lived as subsistence farmers now had disposable income. In China, lobster is seen as one of the cheaper seafood options, something that might come as a surprise to American grocery shoppers.
The Chinese appetite for lobster has also spread to other parts of Asia, with Vietnam now spending 22 times more than what it did in 2010, while lobster revenue from South Korea has seen a five-fold increase in that same time frame.