China is expecting faster and fresher salmon imports from Norway after e-commerce giant Alibaba formed a strategic partnership with the world's largest salmon farmer to make the fish more accessible to ordinary consumers.
Win-Chain, Alibaba's aggregated global sourcing platform for fresh food, on Thursday inked an agreement with Norway's Marine Harvest to cooperate on cold chain and delivery, offline catering and online sales operation of imported salmon.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by visiting Norwegian King Harald V and Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, in Shanghai. On the same occasion the Norwegian company announced the opening of its first salmon processing plant in China in Shanghai, where it will work closely with Win-Chain on fueling its domestic business, according to its chairman Ole-Eirik Leroy.
The cooperation "represents a new step for the Norwegian seafood business presence in China and clear commitment to the Chinese market," said Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, Norway's minister of trade and industry.
Under the partnership, salmon's journey from Norway to the shelves of a Chinese shop can be effectively reduced to as little as 48 hours, he noted.
Chinese diners' growing appetite for premium seafood has exponentially driven Norwegian salmon exports to China. The value of Norwegian salmon exports to China grew 544 percent year-on-year to 443 million Norwegian krone ($54.8 million) in the first half of this year, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council.
The nation's total salmon consumption could climb to 100,000 metric tons this year and 240,000 tons in 2025, Sigmund Bjorgo, director of the Norwegian Seafood Council for the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, told China Daily in an earlier interview.
The partnership also serves as an example of how Alibaba is helping top international suppliers to succeed in China and how it further empowers these suppliers－locally and globally－to more readily tap into the benefits of inclusive globalization through cross-border e-commerce, said Alibaba President Michael Evans.
"We will be able to deliver the best-in-class offering of fresh seafood products to consumers across China by leveraging the consumer reach, technological capabilities and logistics support of the Alibaba ecosystem," he said.
Win-Chain will provide online and offline retail infrastructure, logistics and warehousing, customer data and insight, consumer access and tailored branding services, to enable omni-solutions for fresh food, said Win-Chain Co-Chairman Jin Guanglei.
The tie-up is part of a string of deals reached ahead of the China International Import Expo, a fair scheduled for November that demonstrates the nation's pledges to continue open up its economy and market.