Chilean mussel, salmon exports surge


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
January 24, 2012

Three Spanish companies contributed to a 72.7 percent surge in Chilean mussel exports (Mytilus chilensis) during the first 11 months of 2011. The South American country exported 66,043 metric tons valued at EUR 134.5 million (USD 175.2 million) during the 11-month period.

The three companies, representing 16,052 metric tons and EUR 39.8 million (USD 51.7 million) in value, are Blue Shell, Pesquera Trans Antarctic and Toralla.

With two bases in Chile (Santiago and Chiloé), Blue Shell operates as a subsidiary production plant of Spain’s Mascato frozen seafood and part of the fish farm supply chain to Chile, Namibia, Vietnam and China.

Last year, Pesquera Trans Antarctic in Santiago — a subsidiary of Spain’s Jealsa Rianxeira under the Robinson Crusoe and Antarctic trademarks — completed the second of two successful loan transactions of EUR 2.31 million (USD 3 million) from the Inter-American Investment Corporation based in Washington, D.C., to improve logistics at its Puerto Montt plant and increase the production capacity of its canned seafood for Spanish and European markets.

Chiloé-based mussel processor Toralla was founded in the Galicia region of northern Spain. Under its Friend of the Sea certification, it exports bulk mussel meat, half shell mussels and whole vacuum-packed mussels with special pack sizes for supermarkets and distribution points, including Spain, Italy and England.

Other prominent Chilean mussel exporters include St. Andrews Smoky Delicacies trading under Chiloe Seafoods with 6,053 metric tons valued at EUR 10.7 million (USD 14 million), and SouthPacific Korp, with its three varieties of Colorado-brand canned mussels accounting for 4,999 metric tons worth EUR 10 million (USD 13 million). Both companies are based in Santiago.

The combined volumes and values of these exports have gained ground at a satisfactory pace since the 2008 global economic downturn, with frozen mussels to the EU, particularly Spain, leading the way, followed by France and Italy.

During 2012, Chilean salmon exports will also make a good showing with estimated exports of 200,000 metric tons, resulting in a record recovery in the aftermath of severe losses due to the virus ISA (infectious salmon anemia). The species is now “fattening” at a record speed.

Tomás Pablo, CEO of the Corporation for the Promotion of Production at the Chilean Embassy in Spain, said Chile has instituted tougher controls and “totally eliminated” the virus after discovering it four years ago.

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