Blumar boss comments on claims on larger frozen stock in Chile: “Stocks are not increasing in cold storage”

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Wednesday CEO of Mowi Ivan Vindheim spoke out, on how the Chilean salmon industry is freezing down larger stocks due to COVID-19. Blumar CEO Gerardo Balbontin sees the situation differently. 

“I don’t disagree with Mowi’s CEO, I only give you my view of what I’m seeing,” writes Gerardo Balbontin in an email to SalmonBusiness.

The boss of one of Chile’s largest salmon farmers elaborates:

“Chilean processing capacity today is almost at normal levels, stocks are not increasing in cold storage and volume is moving into the market. There were two weeks in early April that plants has some disruptions to operate at full capacity, but now operations are almost business as usual.”

Read also:Chilean salmon market in trouble: The closed US market expands frozen stocks of salmon in Chile

He clarifies that in the first couple of weeks in April harvesting had to be postponed, but the salmon have been harvested now.

To the question on whether Chilean salmon farmers are freezing down larger amount of salmon, the Blumar boss is vaguer:

“I don’t know if companies are freezing more or not, could be, but what matters is if companies are selling what they are freezing, and my opinion is yes, at least we are,” he says.

Read also: Steven Rafferty: “We will probably see disruption for months in the salmon industry”

In Blumar’s own case Gerardo Balbontin explains that the company is processing at 80 per cent capacity. Due to social distancing the company is down 20 per cent.

Mowi boss stated, that the Chilean salmon market is challenged due to the lower demand for the US. On this matter the Blumar CEO disagrees:

How are you able to supply the US market? And on what average is the percentage at compared to before the pandemic?

“Yes, we are supplying USA, and I estimate that the volume going from Chile to USA today is 80% of the pre-pandemic volume,” says Gerardo Balbontin.

In regard to processing volume compared to last year the boss answers:

“We have the same volume as last year and have not increased our normal inventory level.”