Miguel Perez, left, Camanchaca's senior sales manager for EU and the Middle East, with Gonzalo Montes, salmon division business manager, at the company's stand at Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona this week.

Camanchaca casts net wider for coho customers

Strong interest reported from European and Asian visitors at Seafood Expo Global


Chilean fish farmer Salmones Camanchaca is making progress with its efforts to widen the market for its coho salmon products after having its fingers burned last year by a fall in demand and price in Japan, the main market for the species.

Gonzalo Montes, business manager of Camanchaca’s salmon division, said there was a lot of interest in the company’s value added coho products from many of the visitors to the company’s stand at Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona this week.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from Europe. People like the colour and the flavour. Ninety percent of our coho production is value added products and people are more interested in that,” said Montes.

“Coho used to be only for Japan but now there are a lot of different countries interested.”

100% VAP

The move away from selling whole coho salmon will be completed this year.

“In the next season 100% of our coho will be sold as value added products,” said Montes, who added that Camanchaca’s stand had received a lot of visitors from Asia, as well as Europe.

Camanchaca primarily produces Atlantic salmon but in 2022 it decided to increase coho production because it has some production advantages. Coho is naturally resistant to sea lice and reaches harvest size before the worst time for harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Weaker yen

The company harvested 6-8,000 tonnes of coho in 2023, including 3,700 tonnes (whole fish equivalent) in Q3, but an increase in the global supply of coho, combined with a drop in demand caused by a weak Japanese yen, meant that it was left with an unsold frozen inventory of more than 1,000 tonnes at the end of that quarter.

The loss in the value of that inventory because of the weaker yen was calculated to have cost Camanchaca US $3.1 million because the cost to produce the fish is higher than the estimated sale price.

Camanchaca has halved production of coho this year but still sees advantages in growing the fish if it can diversify its customer base.

Coho fillets marketed under Camanchaca's Pier 33 Gourmet brand on show in Barcelona.