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Norway has negotiated a series of rule changes to make it easier for its salmon industry to export to three Middle Eastern countries.
Working with the Food Safety Authority and Norwegian embassies in Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Norway’s government has been able to improve market access and remove some of the earlier regulatory barriers.
The rule changes mainly concern agreeing a longer shelf life for fresh salmon, which greatly simplifies the export process.
The development was described by Seafood Council spokesperson Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen, who works in the Middle East, as a victory for Norway’s seafood exporters.
Most markets operate with a shelf life for salmon of at least 14 days. In Israel, however, the shelf life for fresh salmon is set to only seven days.
For Norwegian exporters, this rule had been a major obstacle to developing the market, according to Maria GE Barroso at the salmon producer Seaborn.
She explains that delays due to bad weather or logistics and transport have meant that the salmon has been returned or destroyed and tons of fresh and fine salmon had gone straight into the bin. This was unsustainable and had resulted in large financial losses, she added.
In Jordan the authorities insisted that all fresh seafood had to be in the country no later than 48 hours after it had been slaughtered, but that obstacle has now been scrapped.
“We are still waiting for an official confirmation, but the country’s authorities have verbally informed the importers that the rule has been removed,” said Ørjan Kjærvik Olsen.
He also said that getting approval as a seafood exporter to Saudi Arabia has been a complicated process.
But after a number of inputs to the Saudi authorities, and with help from the embassy in Riyadh and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the application process has now become easier.
He explained: “We have created a much more comprehensible registration form. The filling out process is still cumbersome, but nowhere near as difficult to handle as before.
“We will continue to work on further simplifications, but so far we are quite satisfied that the whole process has become more predictable.”
There have also been signals from Saudi Arabia about possible changes to the durability regulations. According to the rules, the shelf life for fresh salmon is only nine days.
Now Norwegian salmon exporters who work with Saudi Arabia say that it has been expanded to 14 days, although this had yet to be confirmed by the Saudi authorities.
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