China trying sea cucumber like it’s brand new with Seacoo本土品牌开拓中国海参新市场

IMG_9805_pressedBy Chris Muise

Jim Zhang came from China seven years ago to study economics at Saint Mary’s University. His family are in the food business back home, so he kept a keen eye on our ocean’s bounty for prospective new markets here.

“When I first came here, I was trying to look for the local seafood, maybe have an opportunity to bring some to China,” says Zhang.

Zhang would find a seafood product that could give him a foothold in the market, both in China and Canada, but it wasn’t with any of the seafood that we’re famous for. Instead of fresh Atlantic lobster, or haddock, or herring, Zhang is putting Nova Scotia on the map with our local…sea cucumber?

Yes, in case you didn’t know, Nova Scotia waters do play home to sea cucumber, the blobby little creatures known for weaponizing their intestines. Jules LeBlanc has been involved in the sea cucumber industry locally since 1999, but only met Zhang about four years ago. Zhang came to LeBlanc after discovering the product, with an idea for an untapped market to explore.

Sea cucumber is a popular dish in China and other Asian countries, and is consumed more like a medicine than food. It’s touted as a traditional medicine for everything from arthritis to impotency to even cancer – some call it ‘the ginseng of the sea’ – but the health benefits of the Chinese variety of sea cucumber are currently up in the air.

“They farm the sea cucumber in China – the food safety is a problem right now. People used medicine to farm the sea cucumber, then the sea cucumber have that special stuff inside, so it’s actually harmful,” says Zhang. “Once the Chinese sea cucumber safety problem happened, people are looking for healthy seafood from outside.”

Zhang, president of his own company Right Source Food International, saw the opportunity to promote Nova Scotia sea cucumber as a safe, healthy alternative to the farmed variety among the Chinese market, since ours is fished fresh and wild. Zhang and LeBlanc teamed up to create a new brand, Seacoo.

Seacoo is sold internationally in China, as well as Chinese markets here at home. On the plus side, word is spreading fast by operating out of Halifax – word travels fast in China when Chinese citizens here buy some to bring back home as gifts. But that isn’t to say it’s been an easy sell for all.

“The only problem was, for China, that most customers that buy sea cucumber are probably middle or old age, so they have known Chinese sea cucumber very well,” says Zhang, who says the Chinese sea cucumber species is visibly different from ours. “People [find it] hard to accept the Canadian sea cucumber the first time.”

But Zhang’s marketing sensibilities is slowly starting to whittle away at that reluctance. Free samples and cooking demos have helped warm long-time sea cucumber users up to Seacoo’s product, and Seacoo is rolling out a new version of the product – whole sea cucumbers instead of slices – to look more familiar to their more traditional clientele.

“Every year there’s little more expansion, in terms of the market and the demand,” says LeBlanc. “The brand’s picking up speed. ”

Once Zhang and LeBlanc conquer the Chinese market, they’re hoping they can take Seacoo even further around the world.

“We would like to bring the Canadian sea cucumber – the Seacoo brand – to Australia, and Europe, and the U.S., and China this year,” says Zhang.

As for branching out to local, non-Chinese customers, Zhang admits that it’ll be an acquired taste, but has hope that he can turn them around.

“A lot of people don’t have experience on this. It’s still really hard, actually, for local people [to cook],” says Zhang, who is looking into a ready-made variety of the product for the uninitiated. “Maybe someday, we can make something to let you guys have it.”

If you know how to cook it, or don’t but want to give it a try anyway, Seacoo sea cucumbers can be purchased locally at the Fisherman’s Market on the Bedford Highway. (End)

七年前,Jim Zhang离开中国,来到圣玛丽大学主修经济学。Jim的家人在中国经营海产生意,受家人的影响,他对新斯科舍省前景广阔、领域崭新的海产品市场充满了兴趣。



大家都知道,海参是一种遇到危险时会吐出内脏吓阻敌人,以求自保的海生棘皮类动物。可大家不知道的是,新省海洋为这类动物提供了得天独厚的生长条件。 Jules LeBlanc先生自1999年开始从事海参生意,他与Jim在四年前相识。在一系列产品调研后,Jim向LeBlanc先生提出了开拓新市场的想法。


“在中国,海参多为养殖海参。在食品安全令人担忧的今天,有些养殖海参使用饲料喂养,甚至在其中添加了激素和抗生素,最终药物残留在海参体内,对人有害无益。” Jim介绍道:“自从中国的海参产品问题被曝光,消费者开始寻求海外的健康海产。”










想尝尝鲜?海品源的海参产品现在位于Bedford Highway的海鲜市场Fisherman’s Market有售。(完)


About Dakai Maritimes

Halifax's English-Mandarin newspaper catered to Maritime Canadian and Chinese residents as well as business and leisure Chinese visitors to Maritime Canada. Dakai Maritimes publishes 4 times a year in Halifax Regional Municipality.

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