Dec 30, 2019|

Chagan Lake Ice Fishing Goes High Tech with JD


On December 28, three days away from New Year’s Day 2020, the first batch of bighead carp of the season was fished out of the famous Chagan Lake in Jilin Province in Northeast China. As the first e-commerce company to partner with the Chagan Lake Fishery for six years, every year, sells 1/3 of the fishery’s bighead carp both through its online JD Fresh channel and offline 7FRESH supermarket chains, leveraging its cold chain network, and more recently blockchain to ensure this delicacy reaches dinner tables across China.

Known to locals as “White Holy Lake”, Chagan Lake is home to a rich fishing tradition that stretches back thousands of years. The 307-square-kilometer Chagan Lake is the only place in China to preserve the ancient practice of Mongolian fishing. As far back as the Liao and Jin dynasties (916-1234), emperors would lead a party of queens and concubines, and ministers to the lake from nearby capitals to go and catch the lake’s carp, and hold a fish banquet there.

Chagan Lake in Jilin Province in Northeast China

Today, the tradition is preserved through the annual Chagan Lake Winter Fishing Festival, held every year in late December. In temperatures as low as -30°C, fishermen drill holes in the ice, harness their horses to enormous nets, and slowly pull up their catch, a process that can take eight to nine hours. In 2014, the tradition captured the interest of Chinese viewers when it was featured in “A Bite of China,” a popular documentary series by CCTV introducing Chinese food and related culture from all over China.

Despite the surge in interest in Chagan Lake’s carp that resulted from the program’s broadcast, most Chinese had very limited ways to acquire the delicacy before JD stepped in. At the time, the only existing supply chain option was for the fish to be transported from the lake to the nearby town of Songyuan, then to the city of Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, about 600 km away, and only then to smaller regional centers. With so many intermediate links, the cost of distribution was high, and it was strenuous to get fresh fish outside of the northeastern provinces.

Shortly after the “A Bite of China” episode aired, JD signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Chagan Lake Fisheries, becoming the first e-commerce platform to partner with the fishery. JD has streamlined the distribution process by deploying its own cold chain logistics directly to the lake shore, where temperature-controlled transportation vehicles are loaded up with freshly caught carp, which are now delivered to tables in more than 300 cities across China in as fast as in 24 hours after the fish is caught.

JD signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Chagan Lake Fisheries

As the fame of the fish has risen over the years, a large amount of fake Chagan Lake fish has been popping up on in the market. To give consumers confidence, JD will for the first time apply blockchain technology to guarantee the authenticity of Chagan Lake carp this year. By scanning the unique blockchain ID of each fish, customers are able to find out production and transportation details such as the origin, qualification and even the fisherman’s name.

“JD’s partnership with Chagan Lake Fisheries demonstrates the raw potential of our self-built nationwide logistics network: fulfilling the wishes of Chinese consumers by giving them access to options that were previously unavailable to them,” said Jie Wang, key projects lead, fresh food sourcing, “The partnership also lends a helping to hand to Chagan Lake local residents, increasing fish sales, raising their brand profile and promoting the continuation of their ancient Chagan Lake winter traditions.”

Yan Laisuo, director of Chagan Lake Fisheries, said that the fishery insisted on exclusive cooperation with JD because of its superior logistics and e-commerce capabilities: “We appreciate how JD’s strictly controlled cold-chain logistics network preserves the integrity of our delicious Chagan Lake bighead carp as it is distributed to consumers throughout all corners of the country,” he said. “This ensures that the traditions of Chagan Lake stay intact and that more people can appreciate this bountiful natural resource and be inspired to visit us one day.”