Chile’s Multiexport in Talks to Resume Wal-Mart Salmon Sales

Multiexport Foods SA (MULTIFOO), the only salmon farmer in Chile’s benchmark stock index, is in talks with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) to reestablish sales to its main grocery stores, Chief Executive Officer Andres Lyon said.

Multiexport is supplying salmon to Costco Wholesale Corp. and Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club chain in the U.S., Lyon said in an interview in Santiago today. The company expects record sales of $260 million this year as Chile’s salmon industry recovers from an outbreak of a fish-sickening virus in 2007, he said.

Wal-Mart curtailed purchases of Chilean salmon in 2009 after the ISA virus forced producers to cull stocks, making supplies unavailable. Norway, the world’s top producer, picked up the slack by boosting exports to the U.S.

“We are in negotiations” with Wal-Mart, Lyon said. “In general the Norwegians are pulling out of the U.S.” he said.

Multiexport Foods rose 2.4 percent to 129.81 pesos in Santiago trading today as the Ipsa index slid 0.3 percent. The stock has slumped 40 percent this year after surging 155 percent last year. Wal-Mart public relations representatives didn’t immediately return e-mailed and phone messages seeking comment.

Chilean salmon exports may reach $5 billion to $6 billion in two to three years from about $3 billion this year, Economy Minister Pablo Longueira told a conference in Santiago today.

Norway is producing at close to its maximum capacity of about 1 million metric tons a year and can’t raise output like Chile, Ricardo Garcia, chief executive officer of rival Chilean producer Cia. Pesquera Camanchaca SA said today.

Stricter Standards

Authorities will enforce stricter standards in the industry amid a “latent” risk of another outbreak of the ISA virus that caused farmers to incur losses in 2008 and 2009, Longueira said.

Lyon said the industry has implemented tougher standards to prevent new outbreaks of the virus.

Based in the southern city of Puerto Montt, Multiexport plans to participate in the consolidation of the Chilean salmon- farming industry and is looking at opportunities, Lyon told reporters earlier today.

“We are in a solid financial position,” Lyon told reporters at a conference in Santiago, referring to the company’s ability to grow through acquisitions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Craze in Santiago at mcraze@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Attwood at jattwood3@bloomberg.net

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