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Costco’s change of salmon supplier could affect the sector

Farmed salmon. (Photo Credit: Costco)

Click on the flag for more information about United StatesUNITED STATES
Thursday, April 02, 2015, 00:50 (GMT + 9)
Giant retailer Costco’s decision to purchase the bulk of its fresh farmed salmon from Norway, instead of buying it from Chile as it has been doing so far, could be affecting the fish marketplace.
This switch, which would become effective in June, implies the retailer will fulfill about 60 per cent of its needs with antibiotic-free salmon from Norway, which just covers 10 per cent at present, The Seattle Times reported.
According to Jeff Lyons, the senior Costco executive in charge of fresh foods, this decision has been explained as the result of an unusual alignment of geopolitical, financial and market trends.
First of all, the US dollar has strengthened against the Norwegian krone, which makes Norwegian fish cheaper.
Secondly, Norway’s foreign policy for its fishing industry changed after China had imposed various bans on Norwegian salmon and Russia also imposed a ban on food imports from Norway as retaliation for sanctions imposed by Western powers over Russia’s moves against Ukraine.
Besides, the US retailer is testing the market’s appetite for antibiotic-free fish, which has been considered a positive impact of the new deal, since Costco has been able to influence the Norwegian salmon farmers to offer salmon raised without antibiotics.
As to the effects on the Chilean fishing industry, SalmonChile, a trade association for Chilean salmon producers, downplayed the move’s impact.
However, the Chile’s Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) together with SERNAPESCA agreed on the creation of a working table to reduce the use of antibiotics in salmon farming
“We are aware of the importante of this issue and for that reason, it is a priority SERNAPESCA is working on in the aquaculture field,” pointed out Eugenio Zamorano, executive of SUBPESCA Aquaculture Division.
Zamorano also added in his statements to Pulso that: “Chile is able to ensure that all its goods comply with safety standards, specifically Chilean salmon destined to the US, which respects all the restrictions imponed by the local authority.”
The executive explained that the main use of anbiotics in the salmon sector is due to a disease affecting the species as the Salmon Rickettsial Syndrome (SRS).

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