Sea cucumbers prove in demand, lucrative in San Diego

"Rich people buy that."
Posted at 6:01 AM, May 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-20 17:18:50-04

KEARNY MESA, Calif. (KGTV) - Helen Lin runs a store called Heng Leng Ginsing inside the 99 Ranch Market in Kearny Mesa.

It’s a store that specializes in some very hard to find items. She calls them premium dried herbs and foods.

All of the products at Heng Leng Ginsing are legitimately harvested and sold. That is something Lin takes pride in.

She sells a wide variety of Sea Cucumbers, some from Mexico, Alaska, even Japan.

“The sea cucumber is a kind of sea animal,” Lin explained.

Cooking and eating it requires soaking it in water for a week. 

“After getting it soft, you put in chicken (broth),” she said. Her customers believe it has health benefits and can even prevent certain diseases.

It’s also very expensive. The price of sea cucumber on her shelf ranges from $99 to $1,400 dollar a pound.

“Rich people buy that,” she said, pointing to the high priced sea cucumbers.

RELATED: Charges shed light on sea cucumber smuggling at US border

It’s a lucrative industry, that’s why Lin is not surprised that some people smuggle them into the market.

However, there are no smuggled items in her store.

She believes many of the illegal sea cucumbers end up in China.

"In China, it’s more expensive than here,” Lin explained. “It's more than $10,000 for one pound. People come from China, they say ‘oh wow, so cheap only $208 a pound.”