Salmon eggs boxed in preparation to be exported. (Photo: AquaGen)
Soaring demand for salmon eggs
Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
The sharp increase which is being recorded in local demand for salmon eggs reflects the recovery experienced by the Chilean salmon industry, following the deep crisis it went through due to the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus.
The company Landcatch, belonging to the group Australis Seafoods, estimated that this year the demand for salmon eggs will increase by 52 per cent over 2010.
According to figures provided by the largest producer of eggs in the industry, in 2010 there were 250 million units - between domestic and imported - and for 2011 it is expected to reach 380 million eggs.
Overcoming the crisis was made possible by the entry of new firms to the salmon industry and the relaunching of businesses from established companies.
Unlike what happened before the crisis, most of the eggs are from local producers, reports the newspaper La Tercera.
|Packing salmon eggs. (Photo: AquaGen)
According to Landcatch, 79 per cent of the 380 million eggs will be produced domestically, and the rest will be imported.
In 2010, the company produced 24 million and this year expects to deliver 83 million units, of which two thirds will be aimed at other companies with the remainder going to Australis Seafoods, which fattens the fish, said the general manager, Andrés Saint-Jean.
Australis competes in this area with Sealand and Aqua Gen.
For the general manager of Aqua Gen, Patrick Dempster, "the lowest supply was due to increased restrictions on imports of eggs and new regulations that restrict supply and increase the cost."
After the ISA virus began spreading across Chilean salmon farms in 2007, the authorities decided to restrict the import of Norwegian and Scottish eggs, as they suspected the emergence of the disease locally.
While in 2008, they imported 253 million eggs, and in 2011, they have so far acquired only 11 million units.
In this regard, the Association for the Chilean Salmon Industry A.G. (SalmonChile) recalled that before the ISA virus, imports accounted for 20 per cent of total production, whereas now the percentage fell to just 4 per cent.
"Many of the national Atlantic salmon reproducers with ISA died. This caused a shortage resulting in price increases," said Carlos Odebret, general manager of SalmonChile.
For its part, the president of the organization, César Barros, said: "We didn't want to import diseases along with the eggs. We committed ourselves to healing."
Regarding the price of eggs, it doubled in one year to reach USD 400 per 1,000 units, Barros noted.
This rise in price reflects higher demand and higher costs, resulting from the radical change that was implemented in the business of producing eggs to ensure an optimal product from a health point of view.
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By Analia Murias