Salma renewing push into Asia with premium packaged raw salmon loin

Representatives of the Salma salmon brand posing with their products.

Norwegian salmon brand Salma is making a renewed push into the Asian market after its initial efforts were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Salma is a line of salmon products with unique packaging produced by Bremnes Seashore. Salma Export Director Johnny Haaberg told SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo Asia (SEA) – which ran from 11 to 13 September in Singapore –  that the company has been selling salmon products such as whole fish and fillets for years, but is now making a push to increase sales of its premium Salma single fresh loin or fillet – in a number of different sizes – that is contained in a wrapped package.

“We have a little bit of sales in Singapore, but we want to increase the distribution, so we are here [at SEA] mainly to take care of clients that we already have and to promote to new markets in Asia,” Haaberg said.

Haaberg said the brand has gained popularity in Norway and is sold across Northern Europe. 

“Now we are trying to have the same success here in Asia. This is start of this, to promote it," he said. "It’s the first time after [Covid] that we are ‘out of the house’ again.”

Haaberg said he attended the 2018 Seafood Expo Asia in Hong Kong, but after that, was able to do little to promote the brand in Asia, as no one from Salma could travel to the region due to travel restrictions.

“We kind of started then, but then it all crashed during [the] corona[virus], so it’s kind of restarting – or at least it feels like a restart,” Haaberg said. “We have had some small sales to various countries, but we could never sit down and make a plan. That’s what we’re doing now, we’re making a plan on how to get a higher distribution.”

The brand's packaging is a unique concept that "doesn’t really have competitors," according to Haaberg.

The company has also developed a new salmon burger product, and all of its products are sashimi-quality, he said. 

“It can all be eaten the way it is, raw,” Haaberg said. “It has a convenience arm, no skin, no bones, and ready to eat raw – just open the packaging and you cut it and you eat it.”

The packaged nature of the product, and its convenience, are both attributes that lend itself to a premium market space, according to Haaberg. He said it's especially appealing for customers looking for salmon for sushi, poke bowls, or other raw uses.

“An average family would never do that. You wouldn’t know what to ask for, you wouldn’t feel secure about bacteria, [asking] ‘Can I eat this raw?’” Haaberg said. “This brand is all about ... you can safely eat it raw as long as you have the shelf life.”

The positive factors of the brand, Haaberg said, give the company hope that it will be able to expand distribution by the 2024 Seafood Expo Asia. 

“I think that’s realistic,” he said. “In Asia, I think target markets will be Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and Japan – buying for a raw tradition. But also in Thailand, it’s really growing.”

Haaberg said Salma's success in Norway is a positive sign, since the product format is better-positioned for succes in Asia. 

“The funny thing is, the tradition of eating salmon raw has existed much longer here,” he said. “It’s actually more adapted to the Asian market from the start.”  

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource


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