The commercial salmon industry, born just thirty years ago, is the third largest aquaculture specie by volume and ispoised for continued growth.
Salmon farming reached commercial scale in 1960’s in Norway. Since then, it has grownfrom a 20 thousand ton cottage industry to two million ton, $10 billion global industry, transforming the economicoutlook of rural communities in Norway, Chile, Canada, and other salmon-producing countries. Farmed salmonproduction surpassed the wild catch in 1999 and is now two-thirds of the combined production.
Falling salmon prices initially fueled demand (as a result of increasing efficiencies) but for the past ten years, demandhas outstripped supply, resulting in higher prices. Industry growth, however, has not come without resistance,particularly from environmental and health non-governmental organizations (NGOs) expressing concerns about highlevels of mercury in farmed salmon, disruptions to marine ecology due to increased harvest of forage fish for fish mealand fish oil, pollution from seawater cages, and increased risk of disease to wild salmon stocks. Improvements inproduction science, diet, management, and regulation have met these critics head on.The industry is positioned for continued growth in both volume and prices, creating an even greater opportunity in thefuture.
Growing demand is driven by consumers awareness of the health benefits of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, agrowing acceptance for consuming farmed fish, the sustainability of production, and a stable, year-round supply. Thehealth benefits of salmon, in particular, will drive growth in the salmon industry as a growing body of researchdemonstrates the dietary effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, in reducing heart disease andother diseases. Additionally, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture is advocating, in their updated dietary guidelines, adoubling in the per capita consumption of seafood.Farmed salmon has a constrained production capacity, however, which will limit new supply for the future. This shouldprove profitable for the industry. Unlike other farmed fish, salmon farming can only be conducted in certain geographicand environmental conditions. Optimal conditions are only found in Norway and Chile, and to a lesser extent, in Canada,the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands.
With the exception of Chile, the world is currently at or near the limits ofproduction based on government regulation of biomass and limited farming sites. Chile, the second largest producerand historical driver of industry supply growth, is projected to increase year over year production by only 1.4 percentthrough 2015, and over the same period, the industry as a whole is expected to only grow supply at 3.7 percent. Futuregrowth is quite modest compared to historical average annual growth of 7 percent. In a supply constrained world, wethink investments at the production level are the optimal place to benefit from the new paradigm.
Furthermore, salmon is much more efficient than chicken, cows or other terrestrial animals at converting feed to safe,nutritious food. Farmed salmon is eight times more efficient at converting feed to protein than beef and nearly twiceas efficient as poultry.Growth of the IndustryAquaculture has experienced an extraordinary rise over the