Resilient Chilean salmon farmers bet on Brazil’s growing appetite

Chile’s recovered salmon industry plans to take full advantage of Brazil’s burgeoning middle class appetite

The world’s second largest salmon industry, Chile, is betting big on growing demand from continental powerhouse Brazil, according to a statement made by industry group SalmonChile. Now, the sector is hoping that demand from Brazil will secure its re-entry onto the global stage as one of the world’s major salmon producers
Chilean salmon farmers have been busy recuperating fish stocks after the 2008 ISA virus nearly wiped out the industry, based in southern Chile. After implementing some of the most stringent sanitation regulations in the industry, Chilean salmon is on the comeback, steadily increasing in quantity and quality over the last two years.
And with increased demand from Brazil, things are looking increasingly rosy. Last year, Brazil imported nearly 10 percent of Chile’s salmon exports for a total value of $282 million. With economic turmoil still keeping North America and Europe on the ropes, Chilean producers are pushing to increase that number this year by as much as 50 percent. And with Brazil’s fast growing middle class seeking out new tastes and the proteins of finer income, they may just pull it off.
“With (economic) growth, people consume more proteins,” said María Eugenia Wagner, president of SalmonChile, speaking to press at the Latin American Investment Summit.
“It’s good to diversify … And this is a very important opportunity for Chilean producers.”
Although Japan and the United States will remain the stalwarts of Chile’s salmon export market, according to Wagner, it’s the Brazilian palette that could make the difference.
“The mood is pretty turbulent in Europe, so (Brazil) helps quite a bit.”
“Due to our proximity, we have a comparative advantage versus other producers,” she added.
Although still far behind Norway’s $5 billion, Chile exported $ 2.9 billion worth of salmon in 2011, or approximately 600,000 metric tons. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service, output is expected to jump to 700,000 metric tons this year.