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Salmon sold at Morrisons supermarkets. (Photo: Morrisons)

Sea lice boosts salmon prices rise

Click on the flag for more information about United Kingdom UNITED KINGDOM
Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 22:10 (GMT + 9)

The increase in sea lice infestations of the world's main producers of farmed salmon has led to a raise in the wholesale price of this fish, which is beginning to be reflected in the prices paid by the consumer.

Wholesale salmon prices increased as much as 50 per cent last year after severe problems in Norway and Scotland with the tiny parasites, which feed on the blood and tissue of salmon. The problem followed a shortage caused by a deadly algae bloom in Chile, The Guardian informed.

Global supplies of Atlantic salmon fell nearly 9 per cent last year and are expected to fall during the first half of this year as lice problems worsen, according to fish industry analysts at the Norwegian bank Nordea.

According to the bank, the top five salmon farms in Norway produced 60,000 tonnes less fish than expected last year, about a 6 per cent drop.

In Scotland, production fell by 4 per cent to 171,722 tonnes in 2015. It was forecast to improve last year but the target is unlikely to be reached because of the sea lice and amoebic gill disease.

Parasite treatment can also produce losses. One major international producer, Marine Harvest, said the volume of salmon it produced in Scotland fell by 16 per cent, or 1,500 tonnes, in the summer, partly because it accidentally killed 175,000 fish while trying to treat them for lice using a device called a thermolicer.

For his part, Lance Forman, owner of H Forman & Son, a smoked salmon curer which supplies several major supermarkets, said he had been forced to put prices up three times last year as the cost of the Scottish farmed salmon had gone up as much as 100 per cent.

Industry analysts say price rises have been slow to filter through to supermarket shelves because fish is generally bought on six- to 12-month contracts and salmon is one of a basket of items targeted in the supermarket price war with discounters Aldi and Lidl.

However, indicators announce that prices will continue to climb.

In fact, Morrisons highlighted the pressure on salmon prices last week while some market research firms point to fish prices as a key contributor to the first period of food price inflation since September 2014.
 
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