Salmon back on shelves, yet market recovery takes time
Published: Jul 02, 2020 10:08 PM

Food and Drug Administration employees check salmon in a Sam's Club store in Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Some fresh salmon products are returning to the shelves after health authorities clarified that there is no evidence suggesting salmon is a direct host or intermediate carrier of the virus which causes COVID-19. However, insiders said that given public confidence in salmon products has taken a knock after the outbreak of the coronavirus at Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing's Fengtai district, it will take at least another three months for the market to return to normal.

Hema Fresh, an online-to-offline Chinese retail supermarket under the Alibaba Group, is offering fresh salmon products in stores in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, the Global Times learned.

To assure consumers, salmon imported from Chile to Shuangliu Market Supervision Authority in Chengdu have been given throat swab tests and nucleic acid tests on June 29, and both proved negative. They were then sent on to the stores, Agri-Joyvio, a Chinese seafood firm that provides the salmon for Hema Fresh, told the Global Times in a statement on Thursday.

The discovery of the coronavirus on a cutting board where imported salmon had been processed at Xinfadi market in June led to a suspension of sales of fresh salmon in the city and beyond.

Shi Guoqing, deputy director of the Emergency Center of the China Center for Disease Control, told a press conference on June 16 that there is no evidence that salmon is the host or an intermediate carrier of the novel coronavirus.

Following the clarification, businesses and traders are hopeful of a market recovery.

Norwegian salmon farmers are following strict measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday. 

"We remain confident about the market recovery and outlook and expect exports to resume when the market demand returns," said the NSC.

As retailers have started selling salmon, consumers are eager to have a taste of fresh salmon after weeks of production suspension, the Global Times learned.

However, the salmon market is not expecting a quick recovery since public confidence in fresh seafood products including salmon is low, experts said.

Jia Mang, general manager of a Japanese restaurant in Beijing, told the Global Times that the market impacts still remain.

"Although officials and the media have refuted rumors, consumers remain wary of salmon," Jia said, adding that they have taken all salmon and many seafood products off the menu.

Jia said that there is no problem with the customs declarations and certification at the moment, except consumer confidence is not there

"If there are no new reported cases, I expect it will take another quarter for the salmon market to pick up," Jia said.