IntraFish Leadership Breakfast 2017 Blog: Producers launch Chilean Salmon Market Council

All the news from IntraFish's Leadership Breakfast on Day 2 of the Boston show, sponsored by the Chilean Salmon Market Council.

Monday, March 20, 11.00 am EST

Optimistic for the future

What do the panelists see for the future of the US salmon market?

"I'm very optimistic," said Blumar's Daniel Montoya. "The consumption has been growing, I think it will continue to grow. In five years, we'll be celebrating very good results."

Camanchaca's Ricardo Garcia concluded the event on a positive note.

"In five years, I see happier Americans, healthier Americans, that are well aware and conscious that they're eating the happiest salmon," he said.

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Monday, March 20, 10:55 am EST

'Our salmon is the happiest'

"The farmed salmon is a happy salmon," said Jose Ramon Gutierrez. "But our Chilean salmon is the happiest."

That's due to the pristine waters and farm conditions, he added.

And that, he concluded, is the message the Chilean industry needs to get out to the world.

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Monday, March 20, 10:50 am EST

A brand -- or 'just a piece of fish?'

"When you're struggling as a commodity, it's a race to the bottom," Phil Gibson said in response to IntraFish Editorial Director Drew Cherry's question on how important it is for Chilean companies to begin identifying themselves as brands.

"But if you can differentiate, you can build equity and separate, and it gives you a story to tell. Without that, it's just going to be a piece of fish."

Jose Ramon Gutierrez added "it's clear that today the market needs new solutions."

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Monday, March 20, 10:45 am EST

No antibiotics by 2022?

Multiexport's Jose Ramon Gutierrez, a panelist at the event, wants to make one thing clear: The salmon farming industry does not use antibiotics for the same reasons most animal protein industries do.

"We're not using antibiotics as a growth hormone like other animal protein industries," he said.

"Ninety-five percent of the use of antibiotics in our industry is related with combating SRS, which is the most important disease in the salmon world right now."

Thankfully, Gutierrez said, "we have the fortune of having new vaccines that are in the trial process," which, once proven effective, will have the chance to reduce antibiotic use -- and quickly.

Gutierrez said the industry should be able to stop antibiotic use in the next five years.

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Monday, March 20, 10:30 am EST

What is the Chilean Salmon Market Council?

The Chilean Salmon Market Council will consist of salmon producers, industry vendors such as feed suppliers, and government agencies such as ProChile -- all contributing with a fee -- and sponsors, such as NGOs, customers and other stakeholders.

Already, companies such as Cermaq, Blumar Seafoods, Multiexport Foods, AquaChile, Camanchaca, Vetisqueros and Australis Seafoods are throwing support behind the institute, Arturo Clement said.

There will be a general council, a nine-member board, an advisory board consisting of a group of professionals with expertise in marketing, and a CEO, who will be a US-based professional with skills in international business and food marketing.

The plan is to have the first version of a marketing plan by 2019, he said.

"Should we have done this a long time ago? Yes," Clement said. "But we're doing it."

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Monday, March 20, 10:20 am EST

Why Chilean salmon?

There are lots of advantage of Chilean salmon, said Ventisqueros' Arturo Clement.

The main ones?

"The Humboldt current, making optimal temperatures," the fact that Chile is "at the end of the world" and isolated, and proximity to main feed suppliers in Chile and Peru and top grain producers Brazil and Argentina, he said.

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Monday, March 20, 10:10 am EST

Marketing, marketing, marketing

As a longtime retail seafood department head, Phil Gibson said the global salmon farming industry must work together "to have a comprehensive marketing strategy."

Marketing taglines such as 'Got milk?' and 'Pork: The Other White Meat' still "resonate a generation later," Gibson said.

He suggested forming a campaign around the theme of 'Salmon: Brain Food for Families.'

"But it must be communicated by the industry as a whole and sustained over time," he said.

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Monday, March 20, 10 am EST

What helped consumers embrace farmed salmon?

Alaska resident and longtime fisherman Phil Gibson, CEO of Resiliensea Group, said his positions at Safeway was the first time he was really involved in farmed salmon.

"At times, farmed salmon was the only type of salmon we could reasonably offer our customers," he said, because wild salmon was only offered fresh during the on-season.

But negative perception toward aquaculture made it difficult to offer farmed salmon in those days -- and even now.

What helped? The relative price compared to wild salmon, consistency and availability.

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Monday, March 20, 9.55 am EST

Communication is key

What are the opportunities for Chile's salmon industry?

Communication, Camanchaca's Bachmann said.

"This is an industry that's been committed to continual improvement," he said. "That's why we're excited about this new initiative [the Chilean Salmon Market Council]."

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Monday, March 20, 9.45 am EST

When Apple was developing computers, Chile was developing PBO

Chile's salmon industry saw a need -- and met it, Camanchaca's Bert Bachmann said.

In the 1990s, most salmon potions were served with bones in it, not appealing to the average American consumer. That's where Chile came in, he said.

"When Apple was developing computers, we were developing pin-bone-out fillets," he joked.

Then people wanted boneless and skinless product.

"Chile stepped up and delivered that product," he said. "Now, if you're dining out, if you're ordering salmon, there's a big chance this is what you'll be served."

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Monday, March 20, 9.40 am EST

Chile's salmon industry has seen it all

Disease, natural disasters -- Chile has seen it all, said Camanchaca's Bert Bachmann.

"Every natural disaster that can happen, happens in Chile," told the audience. "And somehow, Chile creatively overcomes those obstacles."

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Monday, March 20, 9.33 am EST

Chilean salmon? There's mussels too

ProChile's Alejandro Buvinic Alarcon said Chile is the top exporter in the world for mussels and frozen salmon fillets, second in the world for agar-agar and frozen swordfish steaks and third for seaweed.

The US is the most important market for Chilean salmon exports -- by far.

Japan is a not-so-close second, followed by Brazil, Russia and China.

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Monday, March 20, 9.30 am EST

Chile + US = great success

Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chilean ambassador to the US, said the trade agreement the two countries signed "has been a great success."

"Our relationship in trade matters continues to be excellent," Valdes said.

Chile supplies the world with 10 million portions of salmon daily, and the US is its main market, he said.

Changes in government in the United States -- or Chile -- won't change the relationship, Valdes said.

"We're deeply committed to the idea of free trade," Valdes said. "It has been a basis on the development of our nation."

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Monday, March 20, 9.00 am EST

Standing room only

Ten minutes before the event is set to start, the room is filling up with the more than 150 attendees.

Speakers at the breakfast include Alejandro Buvinic Alarcon of ProChile, Bert Bachmann of Camanchaca, Arturo Clement of Ventisqueros, and Juan Gabriel Valdes, the Chilean ambassador to the United States.

Panelists include Camanchaca CEO Ricardo Garcia, Multiexport President Jose Ramon Gutierrez, Blumar Commercial Manager Daniel Montoya and Resiliensea Group CEO Phil Gibson.

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