Disease, including AGD, to remain key in 2014 salmon market
Undercurrent News, 10 Feb 2014
Disease issues including AGD and listeria will continue to define salmon supply and quality issues in Europe in 2014, believes fish health and processing hygiene specialist Elvin Bugge, CEO of Aquatic Concept.
Amoebic gill disease, or AGD, is the most important issue facing salmon in 2014, he said, speaking at Marel’s Salmon Showhow in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Feb. 5.
After harming the Scottish industry over the past few years, AGD is making its way to Norway, where it is a new problem, he said. A comparatively warm Norwegian winter has meant the amoeba has likely survived in the seas, and the disease it brings is expected to affect supply out of the country from as early as August.
During his talk later that day, Rabobank analyst Gorjan Nikolik said he had re-evaluated the expected impact of AGD on Norway’s salmon supply this year, changing his outlook from nothing to worry about, to “something to worry about”, based on recent information.
Water temperatures have been warm over the winter, and remain so in early 2014. When this happened in 2012 there was a real boost to feed consumption and biomass, but Nikolik warned AGD could counteract that effect this year.
However, it is worth noting the disease did not have that effect in 2012, and remains only a possibility, he said.
Though salmon prices are sliding from the all-time high they were at, AGD could keep supplies limited this year, said Bugge. Addressing a room of salmon processors, he warned customer satisfaction, as well as making money, would be tricky with prices so variable.
As for listeria, automation in processing plants is helping to reduce the amount of hands-on contact needed with salmon as it is prepared, he said.
“A listeria-free plant is possible. These days half are, but that means half are not,” he said. He recommended CIP (cleaning in place) systems which, after being adopted by four plants in Norway, have resulted in the elimination of listeria since.
The future for salmon processors depends on high quality delivered at competitive prices – and, of course, making money doing it. The best advice he could offer on this front was shifting mentality from a fixed set of regulations for running operations, to more flexibility, combined with automation that will clean and document itself.
With farmers making fantastic profits, and retail growth in Europe at an all-time low, processors were trapped in between at the moment, said Bugge.
Tesco’s processed salmon sales have seen 0% growth since 2011, while it has been years since Carrefour saw growth of more than 1%. The picture was the same in Scandinavia, he said.