Norway reaps advantages in aftermath of China’s domestic salmon controversy

Norway is capitalizing on the recent controversy surrounding the naming of salmon and domestically-bred rainbow trout in China. 

Norwegian fishery and consular officials have signed a “strategic cooperation” agreement with Alibaba-owned chain Hema Xiansheng in a tie-up that emphasises the “reliable” – and fully-Norwegian – nature of the latter’s salmon supply to Chinese consumers.

This is significant given that Hema has opened 65 stores in 13 cities across China and, by 2021, aims to enter more second-tier cities, servicing a projected consumer base of 300 million citizens, according to sourcing manager Guo Rong Zong, who spoke at the signing of the agreement with Norwegian officials in Shanghai. 

Hema has also promoted Norwegian seafood in promotional gimmicks such as its 8-18 Da Zui Jie (rough translation: 818 Big Mouth Festival), which features food-related games and demonstrations in-store to draw punters. 

Norwegian salmon exporters have had a good news year in China, with the lowering of import tariffs and the end, in July, of China’s disease-related ban on imports from several Norwegian regions. 

In May this year, opportunistic Chinese salmon trading firms faced accusations they were passing off locally-raised Chinese rainbow trout as salmon. A mini scandal was sparked unintentionally by the national broadcaster CCTV when it ran an upbeat report on its business channel on the success of “salmon” producers in the remote westerly province of Qinghai, at the foot of the Himalayas.


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