(Yicai Global) Sept.14 -- The season for eating Yangcheng Lake large crabs, a traditional delicacy in Suzhou in eastern China's Jiangsu province, will start on Sept. 23, with prices expected to reach their highest in three years, online media outlet The Paper cited the Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Crab Association as saying.
Local crab farmers expect prices to be high during the first several weeks, and it remains unclear if they will fall after that. Prices at fisheries were about CNY120 (USD18.3) per 500 grams last year but will rise to CNY150 this year, one seller predicted.
Yangcheng Lake crab production has fallen from a peak of 2,400 tons a year to 2,100 tons in the last few years, after environmental measures saw a reduction in areas for farming.
The government decided to reduce the total farming area by 50 percent from late last year, and it will fall from 2,133 hectares to 1,067 hectares this year. Production will drop by around 1,500 tons as a result.
Yangcheng Lake crab sales rose by 20 percent to USD10 billion (CNY64.8 billion) last year, and the figure will increase further to USD12 billion in 2017, the China Fisheries Association said.
Vouchers for Yangcheng Lake crab entered the market in August and sales reached a three-year high, up by around 500 percent compared with last year, data from Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. [NASDAQ:JD] show.
Yangcheng Lake large crab remained the best-selling variety of hairy crab in the country as of the end of last month, followed by crabs produced at Hongze Lake and Lake Tai. However, there has been a nearly six-fold rise in the number of buyers of hairy crabs from relatively lesser-known areas as consumers become more adventurous.