Salmon has become not only the world’s most popular fish but also the top choice for sushi and sashimi as well: its versatility, delicate flavour, universal appeal, and vibrant pink are immediately recognisable in Japanese restaurants, on sushi conveyor belts and in supermarket pre-prepared boxes around the world. According to a huge (20000 consumers across 20 key markets, the largest of its kind for seafood) global survey from the Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC), salmon is the top choice for consumers overall both for sushi and other dishes. The survey shows that salmon is synonymous with sushi, as it is the preferred sushi topping in 17 out of 20 markets studied, with 64% of consumers overall citing salmon as their top choice when it comes to sushi. Norway actually changed the world of sushi: eating raw salmon as sushi isn’t a centuries-old Japanese staple. In fact, Norway invented this dish in the 1980s, thanks to ‘Project Japan’, an ambitious group of Norwegians that head off to Japan to convince traditionalists that salmon should have its place in the 500-year-old sushi tradition. Today Norwegian salmon has allowed sushi to take over the world, and Japanese sushi has helped make Norwegian salmon the world’s most popular fish. Although it has been a seafood exporter for more than 1000 years, it was salmon farming that made Norway the powerhouse it is today, accounting for more than half of the global Atlantic salmon market and exporting salmon to more than 100 countries around the world. The world’s first successfully farmed salmon was set out in a Norwegian fjord outside Trondheim in 1970, by brothers Ove and Sivert Grøntvedt: that success helped cement Norwegian salmon as a brand in the consumer mind, whose preference over other countries’ continues to grow.
Norway is considered the natural home for salmon, even when farmed: Norway’s clear, cold seas all make for an image in the consumer mind of what it means to be a salmon nation. Norway pioneered salmon farming but it has also invested heavily in making sure its precious marine resources stay sustainable for future generations: the ‘Norwegian model’ of seafood resource management is about close collaboration between research, government, and the industry and, through a dedication to transparency, Norway has been able to take a leadership position when it comes to knowledge, technology and sustainable management of both wild fisheries and aquaculture. Today, Norway exports expertise as well as seafood. Norway’s work on sustainability is resonating with (especially the young) consumers who are increasingly focused on climate change and global resource management. Norwegian aquaculture companies ranked as ‘best in class’ on the ‘Coller FAIRR index‘ of the world’s most sustainable protein producers, for four years in a row. Of the seven companies ranked as ‘low risk’ for sustainability, three are Norwegian aquaculture companies. In the end, Norway is the largest producer of the world’s favourite fish and the world’s favourite sushi topping. The Norwegian salmon industry knows that it must continue to research, to increase transparency and to invest in innovation so that it can continue to deliver sustainable salmon to the equivalent of more than 14 million meals of Norwegian salmon eaten around the world every single day.