Study: China could buy more Alaska wild salmon

<i>Photo by Qiujie "Angie" Zheng</i><br>Salmon are displayed as ingredients in a seafood restaurant in China.
Photo by Qiujie “Angie” Zheng
Farm-raised Atlantic salmon from Norway are displayed as ingredients in a seafood restaurant in China.

A rising middle class, a growing economy and increasing concerns about food safety and pollution in China are creating opportunities for Alaska to sell more wild salmon to Chinese consumers, according to a new report.

Researchers with the University of Alaska and Purdue University completed a marketing study that indicates strong potential for increasing sales of Alaska salmon in China, the world’s second largest economy and the state’s No. 1 export market.

The study, called Consumer Preference and Market Potential for Alaska Salmon in China, was recently published by Alaska Sea Grant, a partnership between University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Due to China’s rapid economic expansion, the country’s growing middle class has increasing amounts of disposable income. The study’s authors found this burgeoning consumer segment desires and can afford high-end food products, including wild-caught Alaska salmon.

“The response to our survey in three major Chinese cities shows that consumers, if presented with more opportunities to purchase Alaska salmon, would favor the wild fish because of its health benefits, pristine source waters and sustainability,” said Quijie “Angie” Zheng, one of the study’s co-authors. Zheng teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Researchers interviewed more than 1,000 shoppers in grocery stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou during June and July 2015.

Key findings:

  • Most consumers (59 percent) said they definitely or probably would buy Alaska salmon if it was available at an acceptable price.
  • Most consumers (68 percent) said they would be more likely to buy Alaska salmon after learning it came from a pure and clean environment and is ecologically sustainable.
  • Given Chinese preferences for using all parts of a fish (not just fillets) in cooking, more than half of all consumers (56 percent) said they would buy Alaska salmon head and bones, indicating a new marketing opportunity to the Alaska fishing industry.

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PD/6-8-17/244-17