King Salmon upset by cheaper import

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:37 18/08/2014
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Imported Atlantic salmon from Norway on sale at the Countdown supermarket in Blenheim is "unbelievably low-priced", says the chief executive of a company the produces salmon for the domestic and export markets.

"It wouldn't surprise me if it was a loss-leader, to gain entry," New Zealand King Salmon chief executive Grant Rosewarne said. The company has salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

"I can't believe they would make any money on it. The regular price (is) $32 a kg, our price is $36. There can't be any money being made at $20 a kg [on special last week]. It's an unbelievable reduction," he said.

A Countdown spokeswoman said the promotion on Atlantic salmon was not a loss-leader.

The majority of salmon sold by Countdown was from New Zealand King Salmon, she said.

"Our customers love salmon. It's a hugely popular quality fish and we will always sell and support locally produced salmon in our stores."

Price was a factor for shoppers, she said.

"New Zealand King Salmon is at the premium end of the market; adding Atlantic salmon to our range introduces something different and offers a bit more choice for people who might want to try it."

Countdown was aware some local producers were also considering Atlantic salmon to supplement their domestic fish supply, she said.

The Atlantic salmon came into New Zealand frozen and was thawed out for sale. Atlantic salmon and King salmon, or chinook salmon as it is also known, have a different oil content and taste.

Rosewarne said King Salmon had become uncompetitive in the domestic market because it did not have the scale it needed.

It had wanted 12 surface hectares of Marlborough Sounds water to expand its farms, and serve the domestic and international market, but it got approval for only three and was two years behind because of the length of the consent process, he said.

The company stopped sending salmon to China last month because it would not be able to meet anticipated demand and serve its other customers as well.

"It would have made our industry and our company competitive. Now we find ourselves not competitive with this imported product. Where we've wound up, we couldn't be more disappointed."

Though King Salmon still had a smaller volume of product, its markets were fairly solid.

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- The Marlborough Express

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