Wet market

Wet market
Chinese 街市
Hanyu Pinyin jiē shì
Cantonese Jyutping gaai1 si5
Literal meaning street market
Traditional markets
Traditional Chinese 傳統市場
Simplified Chinese 传统市场
Modernized wet markets are housed in full structure buildings, though there are still numerous street-level wet markets throughout Asia. Multiple floors make good use of limited commercial space.

A wet market is a market selling fresh meat and produce, distinguished from dry markets which sell durable goods such as cloth and electronics.[1]

Chinese wet markets

Wet markets were traditionally places that sold dead and live animals out in the open. This includes poultry, fish, reptiles, and pigs. However, since SARS, large animals and poultry are not as commonly found in the markets in Hong Kong, though live fish, shellfish, and frogs are widely available. Some markets also sell exotic animals.[2] Fresh fruits and vegetables are also available. Wet markets also generally include butcher shops with fresh meat. The fresh meat and fish sections are separate from the fruit and vegetable stalls. Many markets also have stalls that sell dried goods, flowers, and processed tofu as well as cooked meat.[3]

In Hong Kong the wet markets are most frequented by older Hong Kongers, those with lower incomes, and domestic helpers who serve approximately 10% of Hong Kong's residents.[3][4] Recently they have become sites of interest to tourists as places to see the "real Hong Kong".[3][5]

Many of the wet market buildings are owned by property investment firms and as a result the price of food can vary from market to market.[6] In general, the owner of the wet market building is responsible for maintaining the building infrastructure. Stalls are rented out to retailers, who purchase and sell their goods independently. This is in contrast to a supermarket which is operated by a single company.

For some customers, it is important to see the animal live before being sold. Specifically, they may want to check its health and quality. This is generally not an option in supermarkets, except in lobster or fish booths. Most wet markets have facilities for allowing a customer to choose a live animal, then either take it home as is or see it killed and cleaned.

In culture

In September 2012, Hong Kong lifestyle retail store G.O.D. in cooperation with Sino Art, held The Street Market Symphony Exhibition at Olympian City 2, their first solo art exhibition in a shopping mall. The exhibition used multi-media installations housed in large red lampshades, the iconic representation of Hong Kong's wet markets. They are used to make the food look fresher.[7]


If sanitation standards are not maintained, wet markets can spread disease. Because of the openness, newly introduced animals may come in direct contact with sales clerks, butchers and customers. Insects such as flies have relatively easy access to the food products. Many times the carcasses are thrown on the floor to be butchered more easily. Both the current avian flu outbreak and SARS can be traced to the living conditions of keeping of live animals for sale in wet markets and the potential of cross infection this presents. In 2008 the government of Hong Kong proposed that all poultry should be slaughtered at central abattoirs to combat the spread of avian flu.[8] However, public opposition to such a scheme led to its abandonment.

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wet markets.
  1. Wholesale Markets: Planning and Design Manual (Fao Agricultural Services Bulletin) (No 90)
  2. "Conservation (Environment),Wildlife (Environment),World news,China (News),Animal welfare (News),Food (impact of production on environment),Animals (News),Ethical and green living (Environment),Environment,Chinese food and drink,Asia Pacific (News)". The Guardian. London. 15 May 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 "Wet Markets in Hong Kong". Wix.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  4. "EmeraldInsight". EmeraldInsight.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  5. Chong, Sei (18 March 2011). "A Guide to Hong Kong's Wet Markets". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  6. Elmer W. Cagape (2011-09-08). "Tung Chung town pays the most for food in Hong Kong". Asian Correspondent. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  7. 超巨街市燈現身商場 [Super large wet market red lamps appears in shopping mall]. Sharp Daily (in Chinese). 14 September 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  8. "Central abattoir set for 2011". Archive.news.gov.hk. 2008-06-13. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
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