Salmon suppliers hit as China halts imports over virus fears

by Reuters
Monday, 15 June 2020 10:46 GMT

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OSLO, June 15 (Reuters) - Shares in European salmon suppliers dropped on Monday after China halted imports of the fish on fears they might be linked to a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus at a Beijing market.

State-run newspapers reported the virus was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at Beijing's Xinfadi market, the source of a cluster of infections that has sparked fears of a second wave of the pandemic in China.

The reports prompted major supermarkets in Beijing to remove salmon from their shelves on Saturday.

"We can't send any salmon to China now, the market is closed," Regin Jacobsen, CEO of Oslo-listed salmon supplier Bakkafrost told Reuters.

"We have stopped all sales to China and are waiting for the situation to be clarified," said Stein Martinsen, head of sales and marketing at Norway Royal Salmon.

Shares Norway Royal Salmon, Faroe Islands-based Bakkafrost and other major European supplies Norway's Mowi and Salmar were down 5-7% in early trade.

Both Bakkafrost and Norway Royal Salmon said employees had been tested for the coronavirus and none had tested positive.

China accounts for about 5% of global salmon demand, said Bakkafrost's Jacobsen, adding that volumes would be redirected to other countries.

"Of course, it would have a negative impact on the general market," Jacobsen said. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, writing by Terje Solsvik; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)

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