Multimillion-dollar salmon farm announced in China

Published on
October 12, 2016

China is making another attempt to generate its own salmon supply.

A newcomer to the sector, Rizhao Res Mo Ze Feng Yu Ye Ltd Co., has announced plan to open a salmon farm off the Rizhao coastline in the Yellow Sea, the stretch of water connecting China and the two Koreas.

The company is ultimately aiming to produce 20,000 tons of salmon per year, company founder and CEO Li Ze Ming said. Founded only in 2013, the firm has already spent CNY 24 million (USD 3.6 million, EUR 3.2 million) buying fry, which have since been released into pens in a cold water zone in Rizhao, a region better known for producing shrimp and scallops than finfish. The company is calculating it can finish five-kilogram fish in two years and sell each fish for CNY 200 (USD 30, EUR 27).

The firm is planning to sell salmon in 2017, but hasn’t yet detailed its distribution plans. Rizhao is a two-hour drive from Qingdao, a major seafood processing and trading hub.

The lucrative margins in salmon have long intrigued Chinese fisheries companies. China has adequate cool-water resources in the Yellow Sea, according to Dong Shuanglin, a professor at the Ocean University in Qingdao, a leading center for Chinese aquaculture research.

“There are 130,000 square kilometers of sea with temperatures suitable to raising salmon,” Shuanglin said. “If we use only one percent of that surface area for salmon breeding, we will have a huge resource.”

Demand for salmon species, driven in part by China’s embrace of Japanese dining and a decade-long marketing effort by the Norwegian Seafood Council, continues to drive imports, as well as efforts by local players to grow salmon stocks locally.

Among the more high-profile players is Oriental Ocean, which sells live salmon in several Chinese supermarket chains. The marketing method has had mixed results, given the bulk of Chinese salmon sales take place in restaurants. Growing online demand among young urban consumers for prepared and packaged salmon meals has also done little to drive demand for live fish, though Chinese supermarkets still sell large quantities of live freshwater fish like carp and tilapia.

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