Socionomics Watch—Hairy Crabs

A good indicator of social mood is the appearance of conspicuous consumption in foods, such as $100 hamburgers. In China, there's a food that doesn't need to be souped up and that fluctuates with the economy, hairy crabs (大闸蟹). (The best crabs come from Yang Cheng Lake north of Suzhou and not far from Shanghai, spawning the creation of "washed" crabs (洗澡蟹), where crabs from a different location are placed in the lake and then sold for a much higher price. To combat counterfeiting, the crabs have an ID number laser etched onto the shell.)

SCMP reports that hairy crab sales are up in Better times see diners willing to shell out on hairy crabs again
In a city obsessed with the stock market, the taste of the crabs is examined as closely as price and earnings ratios, with local folklore attributing a connection. During a market-rally year, the crab quality is generally not good, but when the market is troubled, the crabs are top-notch.

The collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers at the start of the crab season last year dealt a blow to consumption. Sales dropped by 20 per cent, said Cheung Wing-kai, manager of the Hong Kong Lao Shanghai Restaurant, one of the city's most popular crab restaurants. "The resulting crash in the stock market meant many customers cancelled their tables or ordered cheaper crabs."

With the economy on the mend this year, people are once again turning to crabs. Cheung says sales are back to the volumes seen in the boom year of 2007.
I see my hairy crab dinner in Shanghai last November was well timed! The story here is that social mood is positive and people are spending on status foods once again.

SMCP also has a video:

No comments:

Post a Comment