The new facility, also located in Urk, provides 11,000 m2 extra production space and will help double annual production from 15,000 tonnes to 30,000 tonnes. There will be a lot more new technology in the new facility, and a good deal of production will be automated. – "We are increasing our focus on food safety, and this facility is a huge step for us. We are confident it will consolidate the success we have already achieved," says CEO Tjeerd Hoekstra.
"Born with fish scales on your body"
Unless you are an expert on the Netherlands, you most probably haven’t heard about Urk. This former island is a municipality in the Dutch province of Flevoland, and it became part of the mainland when the area around the island was reclaimed. Urk is home to a population of over 20,000 and it has centuries of history as a site for fishing and seafood. The locals themselves say that this is a place where you are practically «born with fish scales on your body».
Importer of Norwegian salmon
At the end of the 1980s, Urk was a natural location for a fish processing facility. The town imported Norwegian salmon from suppliers such as Lerøy, processed and smoked the fish then distributed it internationally. The result was delicate, high-end products, and the company experienced continuous growth and a substantial improvement in economy from 2000 to 2010. In 2012, the fish processing company Rodé was acquired by Lerøy Seafoods – a natural step for both companies. – This was a simple and logical choice for us. Having a partner that produces our raw materials provides us with security and continuity of supply in terms of both price and high-quality products, explains Tjeerd Hoekstra.
For more than a decade, Lerøy has produced a completely unique product for the Japanese sushi and sashimi market. This is Aurora Salmon, a special salmon produced according to specifications established in cooperation with long-term partners in Japan. The fish are farmed only in Lerøy Aurora's localities in the region of Troms.
Swimming under the Aurora Borealis and midnight sun
Aurora Salmon are farmed in clear Arctic waters and with vast seasonal variations, comprising the dark season, the Northern Lights and the midnight sun. The fish were carefully selected by Japanese seafood experts on visits to Norway, with the aim of finding the best salmon in the world. After harvesting, the salmon are transported by Finnair in Helsinki as quickly as possible to Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya in Japan. The total transport time from the Norwegian coast to the Japanese consumer is only 36 hours.
Perfect for sushi
Demand is substantial, and the volume has continuously increased since the product was launched. Today, 25 of every 100 salmon exported to the home of sushi come from Lerøy, and 16 of these are Aurora Salmon. The product is popular with the country’s most highly recognised sushi chefs and it has a reputation as a top-class raw ingredient.
Lerøy has achieved this with the implementation of the “integrated parasite control” concept. This involves a number of measures applied in rotation, preventing the salmon lice from adapting to specific measures. The measures comprise e.g. monitoring, action thresholds, structural, mechanical and biological measures and treatment.
Biological measures that work
Salmon lice have an evolutionary advantage due to their short life cycle, which makes them very adaptable. Our response to this challenge is to rotate different control measures, explains Bjarne Reinert, Director of Fish Health at Lerøy Seafood Group. He goes on to explain: – If we only apply one method at a time, the parasites are able to develop resistance. This is a common problem within parasite control. As a result, some methods lose their impact over time. The increase in capacity of medicine-free measures and the increased impact of what we refer to as biological measures, such as the use of cleaner fish, are partly behind the reduction in the use of medication in recent years. – We believe and are confident that salmon lice are best controlled by using a number of different control measures. Efficient and safe medicines will continue to play a role in a future strategy, but we work hard to ensure that the use of medicines is justifiable in terms of food safety, fish welfare, the environment, resistance and economy, confirms Bjarne Reinert.
Norway is the second largest seafood exporter in the world after China, and Lerøy Seafood Group is also the second largest seafood group within salmon and trout production. From our relatively small, long and narrow country, Lerøy’s products are distributed to 80 different countries worldwide – totalling 5 million seafood meals every day. At the same time, the Group continues to purchase large volumes of products, equipment and services locally, where possible. In 2015 alone, the Group’s procurement from local suppliers in Norway totalled almost NOK 12 billion, distributed across 5,269 companies in 28 different municipalities.
Ripple effects to other industries
A large company needs a lot of employees – more specifically, 4,000 employees working for our companies in more than 60 municipalities. Every full-time equivalent in the fishery and fish farming industry generates 1.1 full-time equivalent in another industry. These may be jobs within transport, building and construction, local tradesmen and research.
Tax payments of NOK 500 million
In 2016, Lerøy's employees paid almost NOK 500 million in tax to municipalities and the Government, and the Group paid a total of than NOK 500 million in tax and employer’s contribution. This was also the year when Lerøy Seafood Group acquired Havfisk ASA and Norway Seafoods Group AS, thereby expanding activities into whitefish and achieving a position as a fully integrated corporation with control of the entire value chain.