For Pittman Seafoods, Chile is an important country for the supply of salmon, crab and mussels. For several years now, we have been the majority shareholder in Omega C-Foods, which specialises in sourcing, quality control and shipping. This means we also make regular visits to the country. In May 2018, Joke Vandepitte and Dieter Sanders (CEO’s of Pittman Seafoods) went to visit the twelfth region, in the south of the country.
There was more on the itinerary than a simple factory visit. We also visited an ASC salmon farm in the Patagonian archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. This island group is located in the most southerly part of South America, close to Antarctica. Many stringent rules are in place to protect the majestic local environment. As such, these farms are only accessible by boat. What follows is a report of our journey.
Thirty hours after departing from Bruges we arrived in Punta Arenas, the region’s main hub. In order to make our visit to the factory in Porvenir as efficient as possible, we took a small Cessna and crossed the Strait of Magellan. We have paid many visits to this region and this particular production facility. Tom Robbens, Quality Manager at Pittman Seafoods, was there last February to conduct an audit. Since this last visit, the factory has continued to invest in automation. In this sparsely populated area it’s a challenge to find enough workers. This factory complies with our requirements and is of course IFS- and BRC-certified as well. We observed the production of our portions and blocks of salmon with approval.
A visit to the salmon farm was also arranged. We travelled for four hours by boat through magnificent landscapes before arriving at the farm. The sea was rough as it was still winter. Another boat met us on arrival to disinfect our boat’s hull. We were received on their ‘floating house’.
Around 20 employees live on this farm including technicians, divers, a cook… It is their responsibility to ensure that the whole operation runs smoothly. For example, to ensure the nets are cleaned daily, among other duties. One farm produces between 1,500 and 7,000 tons of salmon.
The twelfth region is ideal for farming ASC salmon. For starters, they have no problems with sea lice – they are simply not found in this region. Throughout their entire life cycle, the salmon have never had to be given antibiotics, not even curative ones.
But there is a second reason why this region is so well suited for the job. Because the region is so poorly accessible, there are very few licenses. In Chile there are approximately 1,350 licences to breed salmon. 1,227 licences are located in the tenth and eleventh regions and only 125 in the twelfth.
Some interesting figures:
In 2018 it is expected that there will be a global yield of 2,405,000 tons of commercially produced Atlantic salmon. The global volume of ASC-certified salmon amounts to around 749,581 tons.
|Volume estimated in tons (2018)
|ASC-volume available today
|207,592 tons (34% of their total amount is ASC)
|368,853 tons (28% of their total amount is ASC)
|Number of certified salmon farms
|Number in assessment
(to become ASC-certified)
In addition to ASC Atlantic salmon, as of this year we have also been importing ASC-certified coho salmon from Chile. This makes for an excellent addition to the BBQ when cooked with the skin, and is particularly sought after by customers who want to smoke fish due to its slightly more intense red colour.
Salmon is an important product for us and we are proud of the quality Atlantic salmon we can offer from Chile, Norway and the Faroe Islands.
Because of our buyers, quality assurance team and locations, we are able to guarantee high-quality and sustainable fish that meets all of our clients’ requirements.