Employees address consumer queries on salmon imported from Norway during the Norwegian Winter Market, a trade fair, held in Shanghai in February 2022. (Photo/China Daily)
China's consolidated economic rebound, the expansion of middle-income groups and consumers' greater importance paid to health and nutrition all point to huge growth potential for Norwegian seafood exporters, said Christian Chramer, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council.
The council said the Scandinavian nation exported 35,022 metric tons of seafood to China in the first quarter. The export value stood at 2.2 billion Norwegian Krone ($210 million), up 18 percent year-on-year and hitting a record high.
China has thus become the sixth-largest market measured by export value for Norwegian seafood, while its ranking was eighth at the end of last year, said Chramer.
The NSC is promoting four key products in the Chinese market, namely salmon, mackerel, cod and shellfish. Fresh whole salmon from Norway showed exceptionally strong growth in the first three months, with export value to China spiking 80 percent year-on-year and volume up 42 percent.
As China optimizes its COVID-19 control measures, opportunities will be provided to Norwegian seafood export businesses this year both at the macro and industry levels, Chramer added.
On the one hand, Norwegian seafood exporters will benefit from China's efforts to consolidate and expand the momentum of the economic rebound, accelerate consumption recovery and stabilize foreign trade and investment. On the other, more Norwegian exporters will be able to visit China for business development amid resumed international travel, he said.
Meanwhile, seafood import facilities will be boosted as pandemic control measures for cold chain products were lifted. Local trade events will resume as normal, providing more opportunities for communication and exchanges along the value chain. The food services sector, which is a major consumption channel for Norwegian seafood, will recover, Chramer said.
Norwegian seafood is available at physical retailers like Sam's Club, Hema, Metro and Costco in China, while major online channels offering the nation's marine offerings include JD and Tmall, said Andreas Thorud, director of NSC for the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.
At present, the key target consumers for Norwegian seafood in China are middle-income groups aged between 25 and 50, based on NSC's observation.
First-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are contributing to the burgeoning export business of Norwegian seafood. Besides, consumption in "new first-tier cities "and second-tier cities like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing and Changsha is showing huge growth potential, said the NSC.
NSC participated in the China International Import Expo for the first time last year, entering into new agreements and partnerships as well as introducing new products to the Chinese market.
This year's CIIE will be particularly important, as it will be the first year since the pandemic subsided, said Chramer. Overseas visitors are expected in large numbers at the exhibition and NSC's presence will help Norwegian seafood exporters further develop the Chinese market and locate new business partners. Therefore, NSC will participate in the CIIE again this year with a bigger booth, he said.
"It is important to stay close to the market and always be attentive to changing consumer demands and habits, especially in such a dynamic market like China," Chramer added.