QINGDAO, China — Pacific salmon could finally be about to hit China in a big way as Dalian Rich Enterprise Group – a Chinese firm specializing in wild salmon products – nears the opening of its CNY 300 million ($42.6m) plant in Dalian, Liaoning province.

China consumes just over 10,000 metric tons of wild Pacific salmon a year, estimates Deng En Tang, CEO of Dalian Rich, versus 80,000-90,000t of imported farmed Atlantic salmon.

This is despite wild salmon caught and frozen in Russia’s Far East’s low cost compared with Atlantic salmon which is flown in fresh. “For consumers to accept Pacific salmon requires a process of market development. But growing Atlantic salmon sales in China can help drive sales of Pacific salmon,” Deng told Undercurrent News, at the 2019 China Fisheries & Seafood Expo.

“Our modern processing factory consists of eight lines; it will produce marinated salmon, grilled salmon, salmon dumplings, salmon balls, that sort of thing. We want to develop salmon as a diversified product for more people to eat.”

Scheduled to open in March of next year, Deng claimed the plant is the single largest investment in seafood processing capacity currently in Dalian, a seafood processing hub. “We will open 35,000t of cold storage capacity next month, 15,000t of which is bonded warehousing. In March, full operations will begin.”

The firm aims to sell to China’s growing foodservice channel, as well as retail. “We are selling currently to Walmart in China, 7-Eleven and airlines Southern Airlines and All Nippon Airlines.”

According to an employee at the firm, a 360-gram pack of Dalian Rich’s Pacific salmon dim sum typically retails for CNY 36, or $5.13.