Kontali analyst: Land-based salmon farming may have reached tipping point

Kontali Lead Salmonids Analyst Lars Daniel Garshol
Kontali Lead Salmonids Analyst Lars Daniel Garshol | Photo courtesy of Kontali
6 Min

The farming of salmon on land – from egg to market-size fish – is becoming increasingly feasible and reliable, according to Kontali Lead Salmonids Analyst Lars Daniel Garshol.

Garshol said Kontali is becoming “more and more optimistic” about the land-based salmon-farming sector given the number of production facilities and large-scale operations that will soon come onstream.

“This is an important stepping stone from representing only a fractional share of the total supply to being able to adequately supply the global deficit of Atlantic salmon,” he said. “It’s about the number of players who are able or in a position to generate this growth. This will accelerate and increase the focus for land-based [farming].”

Garshol said Kontali, a Norwegian analysis firm, has long considered land-based farming as a much-needed source of extra salmon production. What necessitated this form of farming was a stagnation of the traditional coastal net-pen sector due to fish health and welfare issues.

Norway’s recent imposition of an aquaculture resource tax and other policies that have limited the creation of additional capacity in conventional sea-cage farming have inflated that opportunity, and with the “super profits” posted by salmon-producing companies in recent years, Garshol said there are strong incentives for land-based salmon farm development. Sustained high salmon prices are further evidence of an industry that’s not able to deliver enough product, he said.

“The market opportunity for salmon is there for all to take. It’s about the ability to produce and grow, and for those who are able to do that, the signal from the market is, ‘Yes, we want more.’ The challenge for the industry, then, is to produce more,” Garshol said in a Kontali Seafood Explained webinar on 20 March.

A key metric to watch regarding the shift to land-based production is the number of land-based farms able to produce over 2,000 metric tons (MT) of product annually, Garshol said. To-date, this has only been achieved once – in 2022, when a single recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility harvested 2,253 MT of head-on gutted (HOG) salmon. No individual plants produced over 2,000 MT in 2023, but Garshol said Kontali predicts this year that two facilities will achieve these volumes; it also estimates that in 2025 ...

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