Chinese e-commerce giants cut or drop imported salmon over coronavirus scare

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Fish pulled from China’s biggest food delivery app as well as world’s biggest e-commerce website.

Reuters reports that it’s some of Chinese online retailer titans are dropping salmon as residents are turning away from the fish after the recent coronavirus salmon chopping board debacle.

Authorities have claimed that coronavirus was detected on a chopping board for imported salmon at Xinfadi market. The imported salmon was from Jingshen seafood market, which was also shut down.

The outbreak sparked a salmon panic in China with many outlets dropping the fish, hitting imports.

The news service wrote that Alibaba’s food delivery arm Ele.me has halted sales of all imported seafood in Beijing.

Taobao, the world’s biggest e-commerce, headquartered in Hangzhou, and also owned by Alibaba, are reported to have slashed salmon sales. The USD 100 billion food delivery giant Meituan and JD.com, which worked with Mowi to get out fresh salmon from its processing site in Shanghai, are doing the same.

In 2018 Mowi announced a major partnership and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Alibaba’s Win-Chain, one of China’s largest fresh food supply chain platforms, to products tailored for the Chinese market. It is not known if Win-Chain has dropped salmon.

SalmonBusiness has approached Mowi for comment on the status of the partnership and the Shanghai processing plant.

The Chinese group buying website for locally found food delivery services Meituan Dianping also said it has pulled all salmon products from its platform nationally.

The Norwegian Seafood Council’s China Director Victoria Braathen told SalmonBusiness that it was too early to say what consequences the Beijing outbreak will have for salmon exports going forward.

“Our understanding is that the current situation is causing some logistical implications for fresh salmon to the market. At the same time, the outbreak has also hit consumers sentiment, which in turn is affecting overall demand, she said.

“We are monitoring the development in the market closely and hope that the situation will be resolved as soon as possible. In 2019, China was the largest growth market for Norwegian salmon and when circumstances are more normalized we look forward to further developing the China market for Norwegian salmon.

“Consumers need to know that fish and seafood from Norway are perfectly safe to eat. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) is clear that the Coronavirus does not affect seafood safety as there are no known cases of infection via contaminated food, imported food or water. To end-users and consumers, it is important to note that based on current knowledge of coronaviruses, infection via food and water is considered unlikely,” added Braathen.