Miami-based salmon importer is one of Chile’s largest.
BluGlacier, which is jointly owned by Chilean salmon farmers Salmones Blumar and Ventisqueros, dramatically revamped its market strategy before COVID-19 hit. Now, under a third of its sales have been affected by the restaurant closings in the USA.
“Our main channel still the retail for the volumes we are importing, though three weeks ago we started seeing some activity from the big players on the food service sector. My feeling is that we have reached the bottom of low demand, and from now we should see just improvements along with the opening of different states with restaurants and social activities,” explained BluGlacier CEO Sebastian Goycoolea to SalmonBusiness.
“I hope we don’t see a second wave that can push back these opening plans,” he added.
The future for HORECA is fraught with closures and bankruptcies. So much so, that Roger Lipton, an industry analyst, investor, and advisor told Business Insider that pandemic closures signalled “restaurant apocalypse” like has never been seen before.
Goycoolea said that they felt the heat from this: “We have been seeing around a 30% of our sales affected by the restaurant closing, but as I said we are positive following the restaurants re-opening trend in some big states like Georgia and Texas”. BluGlacier is one of the three largest Chilean salmon importers to the U.S. by volume.
The CEO believed that the salmon farming industry is well suited to circumnavigate the storm. “The production of salmon worldwide was very stable and aligned with the demand, which gave a good stability to the industry in general for more than four years, allowing the companies to invest and improve the farming techniques for a more sustainable aquaculture,’ he said.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated plans for its targeted B2C strategy, which it said would disrupt the industry and approach “food as a wellness tool”.
“On the other hand, a consumption crisis like the one we are seeing provides opportunities to further promote this protein at the retail-level, making it more accessible to consumers and has also opened opportunities for new sales channels,’ he added.
Are there any issues with Chilean fish coming to the USA?
“The availability to fly the fish to the U.S. is there, since there is an unlimited amount of empty commercial flights with capacity to transport our product as cargo. However, with most of the commerce closed in South America, those flight go back pretty empty making it more expensive for the salmon to flight northbound,” concluded Goycoolea.