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No slowdown in the growing popularity of Atlantic salmon 2 minutes

  May 29, 2015

Barring any production disasters, the global harvest of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is expected to increase by around 3% to 2.3 million tonnes in 2015, and then climb to 2.4 million tonnes next year.

In volume terms, the world’s leading producer of this fish is Norway. In fact, the Scandinavian country is the source of approximately half the Atlantic salmon sold in the world. Its annual harvests are currently double those of Chile, the world’s second largest salmon-producing nation.

The other main producers include the UK, Canada, the Faroe Islands and Australia.

Pittman Seafoods sources its Atlantic salmon from both Norway and Chile. It also has its own production unit in the latter country.


World aquaculture production continues to grow at a rapid rate, as does its contribution to the human diet. According to the latest information from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), world food fish aquaculture production rose by 5.8% to 70.5 million tonnes in 2013.

In the grand scheme of things, at less than 2.5 million tonnes, the salmon industry is fairly modest in terms of its output. However, it is a highly traded product, with total exports exceeding $14 billion (€12.9 billion) in 2013, according to data published by Rabobank International.

The banking group says the primary reason for the large amount of trade is because production is concentrated in countries that have relatively small domestic markets. As should be expected, Norway is by far the number-one exporter — shipping more than a million tonnes annually — and is a key supplier to the European and Russian markets. Second-placed Chile exports 500,000 tonnes and predominantly supplies the US, Japan and Brazil.

However, it should be noted that traditional salmon trade flows have shifted in the past year. This is due to the Russian trade ban imposed on many countries in August 2014. As a result, Chilean exporters have moved significant volume to Russia, while Norway has redirected its salmon to the EU, the US and a number of emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East.


The EU is the world’s largest Atlantic salmon consumer. It is also the most mature market for the product and has long seen high consumption per capita. The US offers plenty of opportunity for growth because its consumption of the product is relatively low, meaning there are still many potential new consumers.

Looking forward, the biggest driver in global salmon demand is widely expected to be the developing economies, especially China and Brazil. But there are many smaller markets, such as Turkey, Mexico, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea and the Middle East, which as a group are becoming significant salmon buyers.

These markets are being driven by higher disposable incomes, a growing middle class and improving logistics. In addition, the positioning of salmon as a premium, healthy and trendy protein is further improving penetration in these regions.

Ten years ago, all emerging markets combined consumed less than 20% of the global Atlantic salmon supply. By 2014, their share reached close to 35%, which is twice the size of the US market. With such a soaring appetite for the product, it is likely that global supplies will become increasingly stretched in the years ahead.