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Rainbow trout sales hit rock bottom amid salmon debate

The most effective punishment for scammers is simply not buying into their nauseating lies, and that’s basically how Chinese consumers reacted to the recent rulings issued by the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), which claimed in its new industry standards that rainbow trout is salmon, although science tells otherwise.

According to (in Chinese) the Beijing News, after the government-backed association released a proposal in August to establish “group standards of salmon for raw consumption” — which makes it justifiable for fishery companies to label rainbow trout as salmon in the market — sales of rainbow trout in China have taken a significant plunge, forcing a few members of the organization to put their trout products on clearance sales or even close their online stores.

Seeing low demand for rainbow trout, Qinghai Minze Longyangxia Ecological Aquaculture, one of the companies involved in the creation of the proposal, has greatly reduced the prices of its trout products on Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce platform, with deals ranging from 30 percent to 60 percent. However, despite the aggressive promotion, four of its 10 trout products didn’t see any sales in the past month.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Hollywin Frozen Food, also a member of the association, has shuttered its online store on JD.com due to plummeting sales.

The disastrous impact of the new rules on the rainbow trout business in China is not much of a surprise. When the proposal was made public, it backfired massively, with many internet users accusing the organization of shamelessly legitimizing sketchy practices to scam customers. Despite the backlash, in a public hearing held by Shanghai’s consumers’ association in August, representatives from the association stubbornly defended their proposal by making some flimsy arguments that don’t make any sense.

When asked if his business was affected by the rulings and all the ensuing debates, the president of Hollywin, without revealing any sales numbers, said, “It’s always right to set standards.” Apparently, the association has passed the point of no return on its “rainbow trout is salmon” statement, and self-deception is the only way to make its members feel better.

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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.

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