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Chile eyes Middle East, Africa for salmon export growth

Collaboration between the private and public sector allows for effective, targeted campaigns in new and existing markets.

Chilean public exports promotion body ProChile has invested CLP 1.9 billion (€2.7 million/$2.9 million) into the salmon industry since 2012 and plans further investment in the coming years focusing on current markets and new channels in the Middle East, Far East and Africa, Director Alejandro Buvinic told IntraFish.

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Acting through its Industry Brands Program, ProChile supports the salmon sector under the umbrella brand Salmon de Chile, promoting the attributes of the origin rather than the characteristics of each specific company.

As part of its strategy, ProChile -- which acts in cooperation with other governmental bodies such as Corfo, Subpesca and Sernapesca -- financially supports the participation of companies in international events including Seafood Expo North America, Conxemar in Spain, China Fisheries and Seafood Expo Global in Brussels.

The body collaborates with the private sector in the promotion of products, communicating with companies and associations and exchanging knowledge and feedback on promotion strategies and opportunities.

“This allows us to generate campaigns that are in line with their needs and our beliefs based on our market expertise and the data we have,” Buvinic said.

Currently, around 80 percent of Chilean salmon exports go to the United States, Japan, Brazil, Russia and China. One of ProChile’s main focuses going forward will be to open new channels: India and Indonesia in particular pose big opportunities, he said.

“We expect to reach a partial agreement with India this year that will benefit the salmon industry," he said.

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In addition, Chile is resuming negotiations with Indonesia, which offers high opportunities for seafood products due to the high presence of Muslim inhabitants, Buvinic said.

“This factor actually makes countries in the Middle East a very attractive market for our product, this is why we are projecting a growth in this area, and also in Africa, whose population age averages 27 and is expected to have an increasing economic growth,” he said.

At the moment, Chilean salmon is present in over 70 countries, and ProChile expects it to open to another 10 different markets in the near future.

“This will be possible as we increase and expand our commercial agreements, and as long as we keep promoting our product in markets where we are already present,” Buvinic said.

ProChile, together with industry players, officially unveiled the recently created Chilean Salmon Market Council at the IntraFish Seafood Leadership Breakfast in Boston, in a bid to compete in international marketing with brand positioning and awareness.

Besides opening new channels, ProChile is targetting key social groups -- especially millenials -- with the promotion of prepacked and ready-to-eat products.

“Millenials -- those born between 1982 and 2000 -- represent more than 25 percent of the US population, and according to various studies, this group has great influence over older generations,” Buvinic said.

“It has been proven that millenials are interested in the origin of the products they eat, in sustainability and traceability, and for them the originality of the format of the products is also very important.”

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To approach this group, he said, it is important to provide information through the packaging and through social media campaigns that are educational about origin and the good use of the products.  

According to official figures from the National Customs Service, Chilean salmon exports to the United States reached CLP 1.3 billion (€1.8 million/$2 million) in 2016, totaling for 134,468 metric tons. The figures are a 195 percent increase in terms of value, and 196 percent in terms of volume from 2010.

“The positioning of salmon and trout in the United States was possible thanks to a common effort between the private and the public sector, whose main concern is to offer a product of a recognized quality that complies with the strictest international standards,” Buvinic said.

“To guarantee the quality and safety of salmon from Chile has been the main focus of the government, who has constantly audited processing companies, which, in turn, invested in technology to produce a product of the highest quality in terms of nutrition and safety.”

In addition, ProChile and Sernapesca collaborated in a number of meetings last year to explain regulations and assessments to US importers, he said.

One of the milestones for the organization was the success in Brazilian markets, where it has promoted the product with different campaigns on social media, the distribution of recipes and marketing strategies in points of sales.

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