Icelandic gears up for China cod launch

Published on
May 20, 2014

One of the world’s key seafood processing and marketing firms is getting ready to launch products for Chinese consumers. Icelandic Group is gearing up to court China's increasingly affluent consumers with new offerings in the pipeline for the restaurant and retail market. The firm, which has for some time used China as a base for value-added processing of seafood, is now eyeing the local market and will gear some of its ready meals to local tastes, said Magnus Bjarnason, company president and CEO.

The firm sees a big future for cod in China, Bjarnason told Seafoodsource. Icelandic has over the past year been conducting research into potential Chinese consumption of cod and ultimately plans to link with a local partner here to distribute branded product. “We will invest for the long term, much in the same way as we operate in South Europe and the US we will invest in our own brand…it will be a long term investment.”

While he wouldn’t name any launch date or potential Chinese partner, Bjarnason, who in a previous career served as a diplomat in Beijing, said the firm benefits from a large range of contacts in the industry in China.

Bjarnason believes the free trade agreement between China and Iceland coming into effect this summer will boost sales of fresh, chilled and frozen seafood products. “I don’t envision a dramatic change, I see more a long-term trend,” said Bjarnason, who is hoping to also boost Icelandic’s sales of Greenland halibut in China.

He believes serious growth in sales will be driven by investment by Icelandic firms in marketing and market development in China, much in the same way as Norway built a market for salmon in China over the past two decades.
Icelandic may find the Norwegians have also spotted the potential for cod here. The Norwegian Seafood Council in China has also pinpointed cod as a new source of growth in China and plans to put a new emphasis on marketing the fish here. “There is enough room for all of us,” said Bjarnason.  
Over 70 years in the business, Icelandic Group has become a leading international seafood company with units like Icelandic Iberica, Icelandic Seachill, The Saucy Fish Co., Icelandic Gadus, Icelandic Ný-Fiskur and Icelandic Asia.

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