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Salmon skin used to make wallets (Photo: FIS/Salmon Eco Leather)

New business opportunities for the salmon industry

Click on the flag for more information about Chile CHILE
Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

The Chilean salmon industry has made a commitment to diversification through the development of new sub-products, in an attempt to achieve new business opportunities.

Salmon is the best-selling Chilean fishing product in international markets, as it constitutes 52 per cent of the total sector exports. Salmon sales abroad have generated USD 2,100 million in 2010.

Chilean salmon is not only valued for its flavor and texture, but also for its nutritional value and health properties due to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids.

But it also has other properties that can promote the diversification of the salmon industry.

"Salmon can offer a wide range of components for use in pharmacology, cosmetics and functional foods, among others, and, which undoubtedly will facilitate many business opportunities in the future," pointed out Luis Pichott, manager of Fundación Chile Aquaculture, in a statement to Diario Financiero.

Among the sub-products of this species that have been making its way in the market, salmon leather stands out, which began to be used to make clothing and decorative items.

In addition, salmon entrails can be used for the preparation of fish oil and meal, which are used for the manufacture of feed for aquaculture. But they are also used for the manufacture of medicinal products containing calcitonin, a hormone that can prevent bone loss and increase bone density.

Omega-3 and salmon oil can be purchased in capsule form, as it happens with calcitonin, which is used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and to reverse the excess calcium in the blood.

One of the main producers of salmon oil and meal in Chile is the company Salmonoil, located in Calbuco, which exports salmon meal to countries such as Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan. Oil, meanwhile, is destined to nutrition industries, paint and leather, both in Chile and abroad.

In recent years, InnovaChile financed four projects for CLP 84 million (about EUR 124,170), designed to enhance and strengthen initiatives that promote the development of these new products, specifically focused on salmon leather.

In this regard, Cristóbal Undurraga, the company executive director, said that many entrepreneurs were able to discern commercial opportunities to turn salmon leather into a new business. He emphasized that this is a "role model" and that "various uses for this material have been found and it has been possible to give added value to something extremely important that was once considered a waste but is now sold as a premium product."

This is the case of CursalChile, a new venture that exports salmon skins as raw material for making clothing, shoes and various accessories, mainly to United States and to Europe.

In addition, CursalChile founder and CEO, Nora Pinto, assures the company is prepared to enter Australia and New Zealand with manufactured products.

The entrepreneur recognizes that although salmon leather has good quality and is more durable than cowhide, in Chile "it has been difficult for people to appreciate it," and for that reason the company has focused on exports.

Pichott stresses that while the industry has developed in recent times, it still lacks the appropriate technology, the necessary innovation capacity and more funding to consolidate and expand this niche.

Thus, to take advantage of sub-products and to generate new businesses it is considered that relevant efforts in logistics supply, investment in processing and market search are necessary."Something that for most micro-entrepreneurs is still difficult to achieve," Pichott summed.

By Silvina Corniola




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