Chilean salmon troubles could hurt global demand says Cermaq exec

Improvements to Chilean salmon farming would have a positive impact on the global trade of the fish, according to the chief executive of the Norwegian seafood company.

Improvements to salmon farming in key producer Chile would have a positive impact on the global salmon trade, according to Jon Hindar, chief executive of Norwegian seafood company Cermaq.

In 2015, 80 percent of salmon came from Chile and Norway, so disease outbreaks in the South American country could damage global salmon demand, Hindar said before a seafood conference on Thursday.

The Chilean industry has been hampered by the disease salmonid rickettsial septicaemia (SRS), which has led to lower quality fish.

According to Hindar, supply volatility from Chile has been a major driver of global price fluctuations over the past decade. As well as SRS, the Chilean salmon sector faces regulatory uncertainty, market and logistical challenges.

Hugo Rogers, fund manager for Liontrust’s water fund, recently told Agri Investor that the SRS outbreak was an investment opportunity, as it has pushed up global salmon prices.

Fund managers also say aquaculture presents significant opportunity for private equity, as many production and supply chains stand to benefit from scaling and modernisation. Expansion of aquacultural production has the potential to supplement the supply of wild caught fish, which has been stagnant for decades.

This week, AMERRA Capital announced that it had acquired Mediterranean aquaculture company, Andromeda Group from private equity firm Global Finance. Earlier this month, agri-focused Paine & Partners exited its investment in Icicle Seafoods, a seafood and aquaculture company formed by P&P predecessor Fox Paine III in 2007.

Oslo-based Cermaq is one of the world’s largest salmon producers. Operating in Norway, Chile and Canada, the company had operating revenues of 6.4 billion NKr ($770 million; €700 million) last year. The company was bought from the Norwegian government by Mitsubishi Corp in 2014 for $1.4 billion.