Chile's first 100% organic salmon is from Cooke

Cooke marks a milestone in the Chilean salmon industry by producing the country's first 100% organic salmon certified according to European Union organic production standards.
The launch of the country's first certified organic salmon cycle marks a new milestone in the history of both Cooke Aquaculture Chile and the entire Chilean salmon industry.

The launch of the country's first certified organic salmon cycle marks a new milestone in the history of both Cooke Aquaculture Chile and the entire Chilean salmon industry.

Foto: Cooke Aquaculture Chile.

Cooke Chile has announced the launch of the country's first certified organic salmon cycle. Chile's first 100% organic salmon not only marks a milestone in the history of the Canadian-owned company but of the Chilean salmon industry as a whole. "We are confident this launch will mark a before and after in the industry, reaffirming our commitment to sustainability, innovation, and quality," the company said in a statement.

A disruption to the Chilean salmon industry status quo

"We are very proud of this milestone," wrote Cooke Aquaculture Chile's Regional General Manager for Latin America, Andrés Parodi, on his LinkedIn profile. He did so next to an image of a news item published in the local media El Mercurio with the headline: 'Cooke harvests first organic salmon in the country and challenges the industry'.

According to what Parodi told the Chilean newspaper, this first organic salmon harvest in Chile is the result of four years of work and tens of millions of dollars of investment in the Cupquelan fjord, located in the Aysén Region, in the south of the country. The idea of the Chilean subsidiary of the Canadian aquaculture company Cooke is to maintain this organic production over time and increase it according to the demand generated.

El Mercurio also reported that the harvest is initially equivalent to 25% of Cooke Chile's total production - 3,700 tons - and implies the country's entry into the international organic salmon market. Cooke Aquaculture Chile's General Manager told the newspaper that for 2024 and 2025, its objective is to reach at least 10% of the world's production of organic Atlantic salmon.

In his statements, Parodi highlighted the company's pride in being the first to have an organic site certified by the European Union (EU) in Chile. He also said the project represents a disruption to the status quo as it is a new way of producing salmon in the country, and this is likely to mark a before and after in the Chilean salmon industry. The General Manager added that it would be ideal if the legislation accompanied this process, adapting to the global trend towards organic production.

Changes affecting the entire production chain

As mentioned above, this has been a long process. To achieve the accreditation that guarantees that salmon farming is carried out in compliance with EU organic production standards, the company had to adopt changes not only in the facilities but in the entire production chain.

To begin with, before starting the process, Cooke Chile had to empty, clean, and disinfect its facilities, since organic salmon cannot be produced in spaces previously used for traditional farming. The hatcheries went through a period of 6 months of sanitization and productive rest, while the sea sites went through a period of 3 months.

It also affected the feed. Feed for organic salmon farming must meet a standard that guarantees, among other things, that the fish oil and fishmeal come only from 100% sustainable fisheries and that all raw materials used are 100% certified by independent international bodies. This was a challenge for the company as this type of feed is not available in Chile and Cooke had to import from Scotland the total tons of certified feed needed to carry out this production.

Not only that, the changes also affected other aspects such as the adoption of measures for animal welfare; the density allowed in the sites - limited to a maximum of 20 kg/m3 in freshwater operations and 10 kg/m3 in saltwater farms -; the use of new technologies in the production processes; and, as a consequence of all this, also the training of the team, who had to acquire the necessary knowledge to carry out the implementation of the organic standard in an optimal way.

'Sustain the planet that sustains you'

According to Cooke, this first round of certified organic salmon combines the best environmental and farming practices, a high level of biodiversity, conservation of natural resources, and the application of high animal welfare and production safety standards. All of this, they say, demonstrates that it is possible to drive the salmon industry forward in harmony with the environment.

"This milestone not only represents a new standard in the way salmon is produced in Chile, with a more environmentally friendly and healthier method for consumers but also symbolizes the entry of our country into the international market of organic salmon, considered by many as a fundamental part of the food solution of the future," says the company in one of the several releases they have issued on the matter.

Making a play on words with sustainability, the company has launched a catchline: 'Sustain the planet that sustains you'. Behind this slogan, an action that, it says, sets a precedent in the salmon industry in Chile, which represented enormous technical, logistical, and productive challenges, but which in turn is one of the pillars of Cooke Chile's work, always focused on animal welfare and care for the environment.

Surely not by chance, Cooke has unveiled this "sustainable revolution in progress" on the eve of the start of AquaSur 2024 - the largest aquaculture trade fair in the southern hemisphere - which runs from today until March 21 in Puerto Montt, Chile.

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