Ricardo García: "Our fish are in better health than Norwegian fish today."

Chilean salmon sector ‘has better biology than Norway’

But distance to market and poorer regulation are disadvantages, says Camanchaca chief


The Chilean salmon farming sector is outperforming the world’s biggest producer, Norway, in terms of fish health and growth, Salmones Camanchaca vice president Ricardo García has said.

But it has the disadvantage of having its main market – the United States – much further away than Norway’s biggest customer, the EU.

Chilean salmon farmers are also hampered by regulations that do not aid efficiency, said García, who was responding to a report by the Pivotes public advocacy centre that concluded the Chilean salmon sector suffers from stagnation, which generates the danger of being left behind by growing salmon farming nations such as Norway.

García told Fish Farming Expert’s Chilean sister site, Salmonexpert.cl, that “from the point of animal health, that is, in terms of biological performance (weight, conversion, smolt yield), Chile is currently better than Norway”.

He added: “Our fish are in better health than Norwegian fish today. And this can be seen in the mortality rate, which is almost double what exists in Chile, and in the state of the salmon at harvest.”

Transport cost

García commented that feed composition in Chile and Norway is similar, with ingredients not very different, so that does not give an advantage or disadvantage to one country over another in terms of competitiveness.

However, he pointed out, “there are other issues that are structural, and that is that the Norwegians have the main market in the world, the European Union, a few hours by truck from their primary processing plants, and the main destinations for Chile are eight hours away by plane”.

“That gives us a disadvantage, Chilean products linked to salmon cost more, with a difference of US $1 compared to the Norwegian ones,” he said.

Additionally, Norwegian regulation “is designed so that salmon farmers are efficient in their processes”.

“The Chilean regulation is not designed for efficiency, since it requires things that have no health or environmental purpose, for example the rigidity in the geographical location of the concession, where it is almost impossible to move them to a better place,” said García.