Estimates for growth in global production of farmed Atlantic salmon in 2021 average around 3 percent. The major contributors to this growth are Norway and Chile, with increases of around 2 and 6 percent respectively. Scottish harvests will be approximately flat year-on-year after a strong rebound in 2019. By far the most rapid growth is now taking place in emerging producer countries such as Australia, Iceland, China and the Russian Federation. A general recognition that the traditional producers will be unable to supply booming demand given current physical and regulatory constraints has been the catalyst for heavy investment into salmonid aquaculture in these countries in recent years. The total increase in supply from these smaller producers (all producers excluding Norway, Chile, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada and the Faroe Islands) is expected to be some 16 percent this year.
In Norway, salmon production was 169.9 million fish in the first 6 months of the year, 3 percent above the same period in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic’s primary impact has been on logistical costs and on harvesting schedules, with many farmers keeping fish in the pens for longer than planned. Valuations of Norwegian salmon aquaculture firms dropped significantly as investors digested the darkening market outlook but overall the sector has continued to operate relatively smoothly. Other indicators, such as average harvest weights and sea lice levels, have generally improved as the year has progressed although there is some concern over a spike in infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) cases. Otherwise, costs have been manageable despite a sustained lull in prices in the second half of the year due to weaker market conditions and higher than anticipated volumes.
In Chile, the farmed salmon sector endured several challenging months in 2020 due to the combined impact of COVID-19 restrictions, falling prices and a truck drivers’ strike in the second half of the year. However, plants have now been able to resume operations at close to normal levels after adopting many safeguards and protective measures to avoid contagion of personnel. Despite suffering losses, most Chilean salmon farmers are in relatively strong financial positions and were able to survive. Chilean salmonid production grew 8.2 percent to 470 400 tonnes in the first 6 months of 2020. Atlantic salmon represented 370 200 tonnes or 80.4 percent of this total.