Note: This article is from the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

(by Peter Foster, BEIJING – Commuters in China who are too busy to [get to the] supermarket [before it closes] are being offered a nutritious alternative to the diet of [chips, candy and soda] usually dispensed from train station vending machines – live crabs.

The automatic crab dispensers have been installed at several underground stations in Nanjing, the capital of the southeastern province of Jiangsu, by an enterprising local company hoping to capitalize on the increasingly hectic lifestyles of urban Chinese.

The ‘Dazha’ hairy crabs, which are a popular regional delicacy along the Yangtze River delta cities of Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shanghai, are sold in three sizes – large, medium or small – and range in prices from [15 to 50 Yuan – approximately $2 to $7].

The crabs are packed into custom-fitted plastic boxes and chilled to 41F which is enough to sedate them but also keep them alive. A sign next to the machine offers three free crabs for anyone who is unlucky enough to get a dead one, the local ‘Guangzhou Daily’ newspaper reported.

“The customers were a bit sceptical at first as they were worried if the crabs were alive or not,” Wu Zhendi, general manager of the Twin Lake Crab Co. told The Telegraph, “but now they see they are alive, they keep coming back. We are selling hundreds each day, and more at weekends.”

The company, which claims on its website to supply crabs to dignitaries staying at China’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse outside Beijing, said it was now planning to expand the trials, possibly even as far as Japan where vending machines are used to sell everything from eggs to ice and umbrellas.

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1. What type of seafood is being sold from vending machines in train stations in southeastern China?

2. Why did the seafood company think that commuters would buy seafood from a vending machine?

3. What is the cost for this seafood?

4. a) How is the seafood kept fresh?
b) What guarantee does the company give to customers?

5. Watch the video under “Resources” below the questions. What do you think of these vending machines?


Watch a news report on the vending machines below:


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