Chilean salmon has potential to become world’s largest industry

Chile’s third largest export could nearly double in volume in 2011, according to a report from Multiexport Foods.

Salmon industry
Chile expects to produce 370,000 metric tons of salmon in 2010.

A report from export firm Multiexport Foods indicates Chile’s salmon industry has the greatest potential for growth of any in the world. Currently, Multiexport raises fish for export in 85 locations, a number that they hope to increase to 100 in the next two years. With this increase in facilities, Multiexport estimates that it would be able to produce an additional 660,000 tons (600,000 metric tons) of salmon annually.

This year, Chile is expected to produce a total of 407,000 tons (370,000 metric tons) of salmon including an additional 29,000 salmonids, a group of fish including types of trout and other similar species. If Chile can reach the estimates laid out by Multiexport, its total salmon production will nearly equal the million ton production of Norway, the largest salmon producer in the world. As of 2007, Chile supplied 36 percent of the world’s salmon, compared to Norway’s 43 percent.

Additionally, Multiexport estimates that total exports for 2010 will reach US$185 million (CP$86.5 billion). The majority of Chilean salmon sales are within Latin America, with 35 percent of total sales. Another 30 percent of Chilean salmon goes north to the United States. In their entirety 25 percent of salmon exports go to Japan with the remainder split between Russia (3 percent), Asia (5 percent) and the European Union (2 percent).

Roughly 40 percent of Chile’s seafood exports come from wild sources, with the rest originating in aquaculture centers. In addition to salmon and trout, Chile’s major seafood exports include shellfish like oysters, clams and abalone.

Chile’s salmon industry is also expected to see a boost from a cooperation agreement signed with Norway in October to share technology and research in the future. Over the past decade, Chile’s salmon farming industry has expanded by 22% annually, and is now the country’s third largest export, following copper and by products from the forestry industry.