Photo taken on Dec. 30, 2021 shows a chicken farm in Luokedui Village, Wenchang City, south China's Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Li Duojiang)
Boasting delicate coconut, sweet coconut juice, and tender chicken meat, the Hainan coconut chicken hotpot has gained a tasty reputation across China. Now it is giving steam to major industries in the tropical island province of Hainan.
A Hainan coconut chicken hotpot meal usually comes with some fresh Hainan coconut, coconut juice, seasoning, ingredients like water chestnuts, and the meat of a type of chicken known as the Wenchang chicken -- those raised in Hainan's Wenchang City, a place most famous for its tender chicken meat.
As the traditional Spring Festival draws near, the Hainan (Tanniu) Wenchang Chicken Co., Ltd. each day churns out three times more chickens and coconut chicken hotpot packages than usual. The company is located in the provincial capital Haikou and operates in Haikou and Wenchang.
Its slaughterhouse in Haikou is rolling at full speed in the middle of the night. Workers are busy sealing chickens and half-prepared hotpot packages for restaurants and supermarkets in and outside Hainan.
Hainan produced about 110 million Wenchang chickens worth about 12 billion yuan (1.89 billion U.S. dollars) last year. About 80 percent of the Wenchang chickens were sold for Hainan coconut chicken hotpot meals.
Riding on the popularity of Hainan coconut chicken hotpots, the Tanniu company is tasting the sweetness of success. In 2018, only 5 percent of its products were shipped outside Hainan. These days, however, the number has jumped to 30 percent, as the company expands its business across the country.
CHICKEN INDUSTRY LAYS GOLDEN EGGS
As companies like Tanniu see their business grow, many local chicken farmers in Wenchang are also reaping benefits.
These companies usually work with the farmers by giving them baby chicks, vaccines, fodder, and chicken-raising techniques. As the chickens grow up, the companies purchase them back.
Hu Qiumei is a resident of Luokedui Village in Wenchang. She has become skillful at chicken-raising since working in partnership with a company in 2019.
Hu goes to the chicken shed to feed the chickens every day after breakfast.
"In the past, individual chicken-raising was quite risky because of possible infectious diseases," she said. "And if the market prices were not good, I would lose money."
But working with the companies proved to be a different story.
Last year, Hu raised more than 30,000 chickens by working with the Tanniu company, guaranteeing a handsome income of more than 100,000 yuan.
The Tanniu company sold more than 3 million Wenchang chickens outside Hainan in 2021, up 50 percent year on year, with sales revenue reaching 140 million yuan.
COCONUT BUSINESS THRIVES
The coconut industry is also thriving.
For Hainan Lyukang Siji Food Co., Ltd., selling coconuts and coconut juice for these hotpot meals brings in more than 1 million yuan in monthly sales revenue.
"In the past, local farmers usually just grew coconut trees around their houses," said Chen Huahui, who is in charge of the company. "Now people are growing coconut trees on a big scale."
Chen said that coconut prices are rising as demand mounts.
"To guarantee coconut supplies, we are working with local farmers to build coconut planting bases," Chen added.
"We are working to further increase businesses by expanding our supply chains," said Zhang Xuli, general manager of the Tanniu company. "We will consider building processing bases outside Hainan, and by increasing our scale, we hope to help farmers gain more benefits."
Workers seal chicken and half-prepared hotpot packages in Hainan (Tanniu) Wenchang Chicken Co., Ltd. in south China's Hainan Province, Dec. 30, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Duojiang)