OSLO (Reuters) - European exports of farmed salmon to China are gradually restarting after a temporary halt due to a coronavirus scare, two exporters and Norway's seafood marketing organisation said on Monday.
Many Chinese buyers halted imports of salmon and the fish was removed from supermarket shelves after the novel coronavirus was found on a chopping board used to cut salmon at a large food market in Beijing last month.
Officials in China and Norway, one of the world's top farmed salmon exporters, later concluded that imported salmon wasn't the source of the contamination.
"Salmon exports to China are resuming, but Beijing is still under lockdown," Regin Jacobsen, CEO of Faore Islands-based Bakkafrost, told Reuters.
Another major Nordic salmon producer also said exports had resumed, but that volumes were not increasing as quickly as after a previous halt at the start of the year due to coronavirus lockdowns in China.
The Norwegian Seafood Council said Norway exported 119 tonnes of fresh salmon to China in the first week of July, down 76% from the same week a year ago, but up from 58 tonnes the previous week.
"So it is gradually going up again, and this is the same tendency as we saw in February," Paul Aandahl, seafood analyst at the organisation, told Reuters.
It took about eight weeks for export volumes to return to normal levels after exports to China were first disrupted by lockdowns, he added.
China began testing imported fresh and frozen food after the discovery of the virus at the Beijing market, and last Friday suspended imports from three Ecuadorean shrimp producers, saying it had detected coronavirus in recent shipments.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Victoria Klesty; Editing by Mark Potter)