Falsely labeled crabs upset the market

Updated: 2012-10-16 13:23

By Tang Zhihao in Shanghai (China Daily)

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This year, some vendors in East China's Fujian province were reported to be selling falsely labeled crabs even before the authentic crabs were officially on sale from Sept 22.

In other cases, some traders purchase crabs from other regions such as Anhui and Shandong provinces in East China and then put the crabs into Yangcheng Lake for a few days before selling them.

The crabs will be traded at the same price as authentic crabs and buyers will be told the crabs are from the lake. Industry insiders said it is the best way to generate quick profits in a short time. Even worse, some traders just sell falsely labeled crabs without transporting them to Yangcheng Lake.

For some crabs traders, selling falsely labeled crabs generates higher and quicker profits. Insiders said the profit margin will be around 50 percent.

"If we tell buyers those crabs are from Yangcheng Lake, the best price is 600 yuan a kilogram. But if we say the crabs are from other breeding bases, the same crabs will be worth about 80 yuan in the ordinary market," said a trader in Gaochun county, Nanjing, who declined to give his name. He has traded falsely labeled Yangchenghu crabs for years in the capital city of Jiangsu province.

In addition, some crabs traded at extremely low prices online also make people uncertain as to what is the true value of Yangchenghu hairy crabs.

Industry experts said the fake products not only have a negative impact on customers' confidence, but also give the wrong signal to local crab breeders.

"If fake crabs continue to be traded in the market, it will not only have a detrimental effect on the reputation of Yangchenghu crabs, but Yangcheng Lake crab breeders will also be confused about which is right direction for developing the industry," said Zhang Guodong, general manager of Suzhou Yangchengyuhuo Biological Breeding Cooperative. The cooperative is a crab breeding and trading expertise association in the Yangcheng Lake area with 133.33 hectares of water area. The main clients for the cooperative are companies.

To curb the problem, the local government, together with the industry association, has been trying to prevent falsely labeled crabs from entering the country's market over the past decade.

In 2006, the Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision in Suzhou began distributing authentic brand rings to Yangcheng Lake crab breeders and required all authentic traded crabs to have the rings attached. There will be a code on the ring that allows customers to verify the authenticity from the official website.

In addition, the local industry association often provides training courses to local breeders to emphasize the importance of protecting the reputation of Yangchenghu crabs.

"In the courses, we tell the breeders what should be done and what is prohibited. They know punishment will be given out if they do something wrong," said Yang Weilong, chairman of Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Crab Association.

However, it seems the actions do not effectively prevent falsely labeled crabs from entering the market. It has even been reported that some people are selling the authentic trade rings to dealers in falsely labeled crabs.

There is a rumor that all Yangcheng Lake crabs had been pre-ordered by large corporations, implying there would be no authentic crabs in the retail market, although the rumor was denied by the local industry association.

Yang said that it is hard to prevent falsely labeled crabs from entering the local market because of the huge number of individual dealers. He said the current legal loopholes leave room for dealers in fake crabs.

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