Norwegian Salmon – The Original Salmon on Sushi

Norwegian Salmon – The Original Salmon on Sushi

Norwegian salmon was introduced to Japan in the early 1980s and has become, in just three decades, one of the most popular ingredients used in sushi. 

Selling seafood to Japan in the early 1980s was no easy task. The Japanese imported very little seafood, but by 1985 they were experiencing their first tuna shortages due to overfishing. A Norwegian export delegation visited Japan in the same year, and saw the opportunity to provide a high quality tuna substitute. The timing was perfect, and Project Japan was born - bringing together producers and exporters to promote Norwegian seafood, and salmon in particular, to the Japanese market.

Despite their long seafood tradition, the Japanese were not used to eating raw salmon. Their local salmon was prone to parasites, and so salmon sashimi - a popular sushi dish - was usually served lightly salted and marinated in vinegar before being served. Norwegian salmon, on the other hand, was free from parasites, and could be eaten raw.

The possibility to source high quality Norwegian salmon that could be served raw, needed to be marketed carefully to skeptical Japanese importers and professional chefs. Targeting the best hotels and restaurants proved to be the most effective marketing strategy for Project Japan. An early victory came when one of Tokyo´s best known and most influential chefs was persuaded to experiment with Norwegian salmon. Shortly afterwards sushi with Norwegian salmon started to appear on menus of other leading sushi restaurants across Japan. The Norwegian salmon is larger and contains more fat than the Japanese variety making it more appealing when raw. These natural advantages helped to convince Japanese chefs, and broaden their food traditions. This early success with professional chefs helped to build the perception of Norwegian salmon as a high quality product. 

In the 1980s and 1990s Japanese trends in fashion, design, technology, and food sweep the world, and as Norwegian salmon became a part of sushi, and as sushi restaurants exploded in popularity, so did Norwegian salmon. Today, Norwegian salmon is one of the most common fish in sushi restaurants around the world. It is even perceived by many as a part of Japanese sushi tradition, despite being introduced only three decades ago.

Project Japan, which introduced Norwegian salmon into sushi 30 years ago is surely one of Norway´s most successful modern export stories.

Norway´s introduction of salmon to sushi has shown the world that we produce a premium product that is truly world class.