China has, so far, bought more than 20,000 tonnes of Norwegian salmon this year – and that’s set to rise

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After several years of slow sales, China has really got the taste of Norwegian salmon.

In 2010, Norway awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the dissident Liu Xiaobo. For years, Beijing’s top brass ensured that Norway’s fish was closed to its market, with exports to the “world’s factory” halting completely.

But after years of intense diplomacy, salmon sales to China are on the rise again.

By the end of 29 weeks, Chinese importers, including Hong Kong’s own customs region, secured Norwegian salmon at a total volume of 20,702 tonnes. This makes China Norway’s eighth-largest salmon customer, according to export statistics from the Norwegian Seafood Council.

Compared with last year, imports increased by 31.3 per-cent.

Mainland China is especially leading the increased purchases, driven by a number of new direct flights from airports in Northern Europe.

In the period when Norwegian fish exporters were out in the cold, much Norwegian salmon nevertheless went to China, via Vietnam. Much was flown to Hanoi, and from there smuggled by car and riverboats into China. Lower middle-income Vietnam has calmed down sharply on salmon purchases in the last couple of years. So far this year, Vietnam has bought 2,417 tonnes of fresh salmon – down from 3,386 tonnes during the same time last year.