Over the past 25 years, the Company has enjoyed a constant and positive development and is perfectly positioned for future growth. Today, Lerøy is a unique seafood corporation with its fully integrated value chain for salmon/trout and whitefish. Few companies can compete with this.
We can also report a significant increase in demand for seafood from all corners of the world. High demand results in high prices for both salmon and whitefish, which has been a contributory factor for the Group's excellent results. We are confident that this trend will continue in the years to come. Good access to the market is essential for a company like Lerøy, with sales of seafood to more than 70 different countries worldwide. China is an excellent case in point to illustrate this. In the autumn of 2010, Norway was banned from exporting directly to China and this situation remained in deadlock up to the end of 2017. Thanks to successful and resolute efforts by the Norwegian authorities, we can now see signs that China may reopen its market. These efforts may be of great importance for demand for salmon from China in the near future. The ban on exports to Russia remains, and Russia is one of the markets with the highest potential for sales of salmon and trout. We remain hopeful that Russia will also in time re-open the door for direct imports of Norwegian salmon and trout.
Development and improvements
2017 was a fantastic year, but we can still do better! Our strategy for development is based on an eternal perspective and comprises specific and continuous improvement measures throughout the value chain. One of our most important tasks in the future is to ensure that every one of our 3,900 employees focuses on fulfilling this strategy. Whatever we did yesterday has to be done even better today!
It is clear that the rate of change is accelerating. This requires a higher capacity for and more definite focus on innovation throughout the company. Digitalisation and technological developments that provide maximum production efficiency and real-time data utilised to develop even better management tools afford new opportunities for improvements to efficiency and progressiveness in every part of the value chain. Changes and improvements require major investments.
Lerøy Seafood Group invests substantial sums of money every year throughout the value chain, and 2017 was no exception.
Investments in whitefish
In 2016, Lerøy Seafood Group acquired the shares in Havfisk and Norway Seafoods (now Lerøy Norway Seafoods). Havfisk is the largest trawling operator in Norway with nine trawlers. The company’s tenth trawler, Nortind, was built in 2017 and started operations in January 2018. We have high expectations that the new trawler will provide even greater catch efficiency and improved product quality.
Lerøy Norway Seafoods has landing and processing facilities for whitefish caught by trawlers and the coastal fishing fleet in North Norway. The company has under-invested for many years and has had a considerable need for investments in terms of improvements to efficiency and quality at its facilities. Major investments were made in several of the company’s factories in 2017. Lerøy also plans to make further substantial investments in the near future, provided that the authorities facilitate stable and predictable framework conditions.
Building new forward-looking industrial installations
In the autumn of 2017, we started construction of the world's most modern recycling plant for large smolt in Kjærelva, Fitjar municipality. This plant will allow us to produce high-quality smolt up to a weight of 500 grams, reducing the amount of time in the open sea. Roe will be introduced in the facility for the first time in the spring of 2018, and the first release to sea is scheduled for 2019. This facility will provide considerable improvements in the quality of smolt, improved fish health, improved production at sea and future growth in volume in the region of Hordaland. In 2016, we made the decision to invest in a forward- looking industrial facility with high capacity for slaughtering and filleting salmon at Lerøy Midt on the island of Hitra. In developing this facility, we focused on new technology, automation, capacity, efficiency, food safety, the environment and quality. The building process has gone according to schedule and the facility will be ready to start production in May 2018.
Major activities abroad
Lerøy also has several factories in the Netherlands. Building work on Lerøy Seafood Center in Urk started in April 2017. This is a factory where the focus is on automation, quality and food safety, and it is designed for production of smoked and freshly packaged products. This will be the most modern factory in Europe and it will have the most innovative technological systems. It will represent an important part of our strategy of competing with low-cost production in East Europe and Asia. The factory will also provide significant capacity for frozen goods, acting as a central warehouse for frozen products for our other companies in Europe, aimed for further distribution to Asia and USA.
Focus on the consumer
For many years now, Lerøy Seafood Group has been one of the leading companies in terms of concept and product development. Our goal is for consumers to choose our seafood products rather than other proteins. We have, for example, played an important role in promoting ready meals and sushi in Europe. We currently have production facilities in Norway, Finland, France and Spain, and we are working on further developing this concept in other markets. The largest market in Europe for us is currently Spain, where we have a factory in Madrid. We have recently opened a new factory in Barcelona and just completed a factory in Valencia. “Ready meals” are products with a short shelf life and that require proximity to local markets and production. A close cooperation with the customer is also essential, keeping quality, innovation and product development at the core.
I am very much looking forward to seeing how this market develops in the near future. I am also very much looking forward to continuing work on the further development of Lerøy Seafood Group together with our employees and strategic alliance partners, in our efforts to create an even more forward-looking, efficient, competitive and sustainable value chain with the potential to create added value for all parties involved, and not least the consumer as the ultimate and most important part of the value chain. Without them, we would never be able to do what we do.
My sincere thanks to all of you for your wonderful efforts in 2017!
The fish was hauled to market in corfs behind Ole Mikkel Lerøen’s rowing boat from the island of Lerøy to the fish market in Bergen, a journey that could take between six and twelve hours, depending on prevailing winds and currents.
Over time, Ole Mikkel Lerøen’s operations gradually came to include retail sales in Bergen, the sale of live shellfish and a budding export business. In 1939, two of his employees, Hallvard Lerøy sr. and Elias Fjeldstad, established a wholesaler and seafood export company – Hallvard Lerøy AS. In time, the company invested in a facility where they could receive pelagic and white fish and carry out fish farming. Poor results and insufficient capitalisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s forced the company to close down its facility for receipt of fish and sell its shareholdings at that time in fish farming in order to safeguard their core operation: wholesale and exports. In 1994, the company carried out a last emergency share issue and started the process of re-establishing a healthy business. At that time, the company's equity was valued at NOK 20 million, prior to an issue worth NOK 5 million.
The potential for growth within fish farming in combination with increasing customer requirements necessitated a radical change in the Group's business concept and strategy. The new strategy was extremely capital intensive. Up to 1997, the Group had been a family-owned operation. In 1997, a private placing with financial investors was carried out for the first time. The purpose of the placing was to develop the Group throughout the entire value chain, and participate in the future consolidation of the fish farming industry. The initial step of what was to become a number of major investments within fish farming occurred in 1999, when the company acquired a minority interest in what was then Hydrotech- Gruppen AS. In the summer of 2001, Norskott Havbruk AS was founded with the sole purpose of acquiring Golden Sea Products, now Scottish Sea Farms Ltd. in the UK.
Access to capital and expertise
The Group was listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in June 2002, providing access to the capital market for the Group and thereby strategic financial room to manoeuvre. Sufficient access to capital and expertise have been critical factors in the development of the Group from a wholesaler/seafood exporter to the current global and fully integrated seafood corporation.
At the turn of the new millennium, large parts of the fish farming industry were seriously undercapitalised and suffering from the impact of a short-term perspective and a lack of risk management. This was not compatible with the requirements placed on enterprises in the fish farming industry at that time. Lerøy Seafood Group had achieved a more solid position by August 2003, when they purchased Nye Midnor AS as it was then called – the company that currently makes up the main share of Lerøy Midt AS. The Group went on to acquire Lerøy Aurora AS in 2005, Fossen AS and the remaining shares in Hydrotech-Gruppen AS in 2006, Lerøy Vest in 2007 via a business combination and a majority shareholding in Sjøtroll Havbruk AS in 2010. The acquisition and demerger of Villa Organic were conducted in 2014. The above-mentioned companies along with a number of minor acquisitions have, together with highly skilled local management, been developed via organic growth to form what is now one of the world's largest producers of Atlantic salmon and trout. The fish farming segment employed 1,419 persons at the end of 2017 in Norway.
Over time the Group has made substantial invest History «Lerøy’s seafood enterprise was born at the fish market in Bergen at the end of the 19th century.» ments within the Processing segment (VAP). These investments in VAP (value-added processing) not only generate a wider product range and open the door to new markets, but also provide more room for manoeuvre in relation to the sale of own-produced salmon and trout. The Group made their ambitions clear in 2002 with the investment in fish-smoking capacity in Sweden (Lerøy Smøgen). In 2005, they went on to invest in a processing facility for white fish in Bulandet (Bulandet Fiskeindustri) in order to further expand their product range. In 2006, the Group expanded its high-value processing plant for trout and salmon on the island of Osterøy (Lerøy Fossen). The Group's acquisition of 50.1% of the shares in the Dutch seafood company Rode Beheer BV Group took place in 2012. The remaining 49.9% was acquired in 2016. The Group has subsequently gone on to expand capacity at all its existing plants. In April 2017, the Group started building Lerøy Seafood Center in Urk in the Netherlands, a factory focusing on automation, quality and food safety and producing smoked and freshly packaged products. This will be the most modern factory in Europe and will have the most innovative technological systems. The framework conditions for industrial development in Norway are increasingly unsatisfactory, however resulting in a trend whereby production is outsourced from Norway to countries with low production costs.
Reaching new markets
Despite this trend, Lerøy Seafood Group has invested heavily in Norway, most recently with the development and doubling in capacity of the plant on the island of Osterøy outside Bergen in 2014.
The VAP segment currently employs 494 persons, 167 of these in Norway. The Group's ambition to increase demand for seafood in the form of new products for new markets has constantly been the driving force behind the Group's investments in the Sales & Distribution segment. This segment not only sells its own production of salmon and trout, but also has a high level of sales activity in cooperation with third parties, ensuring a wide product range for the Group within seafood. In recent years, the Group has also made significant investments in processing facilities, in order to take part in leading the “revolution” within the distribution of fresh seafood. These investments have been made in what is known as “fish-cuts”, processing facilities where proximity to the customer is key. The distribution of fresh seafood requires quality throughout the entire organisation, flexibility, continuity in supply and a high level of service. Today, the Group has a number of fish-cuts throughout Europe, and Leroy Processing Spain can report an exciting development within ready meals and sushi. In addition to the company’s factory in Madrid, the Group completed a new factory in Barcelona in 2017 and a second new factory in Valencia, completed in February 2018. The Group currently sells seafood to more than 70 markets worldwide. The Sales & Distribution segment currently employs 975 persons, 412 of whom work in Norway.
With the development of the VAP and Sales & Distribution segments, an increasing overlap in operations emerged. The Group therefore decided to report both these operations as one segment from 2017: VAPS&D.
Innovator within seafood
Ever since its very foundation, the Group has taken a pioneering role within a number of areas in the Norwegian, and subsequently international, seafood industry. The main focus has always been on developing the markets for seafood. The Group has very frequently been the first to launch on new markets, or to commercialise new species of fish. One of the main goals for the Group is to be an innovator within seafood, and preferably in cooperation with the end customer. This is important not only within product development, but also in other areas such as the development of efficient logistics and distribution. This pioneering spirit is still very much alive in the Group.
2017 will go down as one of the most important years in the company's long history. With the acquisition of 100% of the shares in the trawler operator Havfisk ASA and 100% of the shares in Norway Seafoods AS (now renamed Lerøy Norway Seafoods AS) in the autumn of 2016, the Group has embarked on a new and exciting journey, resulting in the full integration of whitefish into the Group's well-established value chain in 2017.
Lerøy Seafood Group is now a fully integrated company, having achieved control of the entire value chain for a full range of seafood products – from the sea to the consumer. At the start of 2018, the seafood corporation Lerøy Seafood Group has a unique position for further growth and development.
Lerøy Seafood Group has a strong focus on ensuring proper management of resources in the sea, allowing for growth for the seafood industry and the continuing supply of sustainable high-quality seafood in the future. Every day, we supply the equivalent of three million seafood meals to more than 70 markets. Lerøy Seafood Group is a wholly integrated company, carefully following each step throughout the entire value chain, from salmon eggs and fishing to finished products.
We shall be the leading and most profitable global supplier of sustainable quality seafood.
Lerøy Seafood Group is one of the largest seafood corporations in the world. The Group’s operations are based on the natural resources produced in the sea and rely on these resources being properly managed so that we can continue to sell seafood in the future. The management of Lerøy Seafood Group will do their utmost to ensure that the products caught, manufactured and purchased comply with the prevailing regulations and requirements of our industry. We will furthermore strive to find the most environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions for our products through close cooperation with our customers and suppliers, particularly suppliers of fish feed, packaging and transport. Lerøy Seafood Group also seeks continuously to identify improvements which may reduce pollution and help protect the environment. The management and employees will focus on the goals set, and the environment and sustainability will be important focus areas for Lerøy Seafood Group in the years to come.
Take action today – for a difference tomorrow
We shall be the customers’ preferred supplier of seafood by focusing on preventive action, quality, the environment and professional competency.
The right seafood products delivered to the right place at the right time to optimise profitability for all parties.
Lerøy Seafood Group, in collaboration with the entire organisation, has drawn up a set of values that apply to the entire Group. These were implemented in all Group companies in 2016/2017.
The Group’s activities are varied, depending on each entity’s position in the value chain, and consequently require differentiated forms of management and follow-up. Good internal management systems are essential for success, and these must be continuously developed to accommodate fluctuating conditions. The Group’s regional structure with independent entities, including in terms of short-term reporting, facilitates good control and a powerful focus. Internal control is based on daily and weekly reports that are summarised into monthly reports tailored to the individual company, and at Group level. There is an emphasis on developing uniform reporting procedures and formats to ensure correct reporting from all entities and up to an aggregate level. As Lerøy Seafood Group is an international seafood corporation with decentralised operations and a significant volume of biological production, the company is exposed to a number of risk factors. The Board of Directors therefore works hard to ensure that the Group implements all measures required to control risk, to limit individual risks and to keep risk as a whole within acceptable constraints.
Operating risk. Fish farming takes place in relatively open seas, which provide the best conditions for fish farming in terms of the environment and health of the fish. However, this places significant demands on both personnel and equipment. The production plants are continuously subjected to the forces of nature, representing a certain risk of damage to equipment which, in turn, may result in accidental release of fish. The company reported three incidents involving the accidental release of fish in 2017, cf. the more detailed description in the Group's Environmental Report. Keeping animals in intensive cultures will always entail a certain risk of illness. Fish are particularly vulnerable to illness when they start life at sea, as they are exposed to stress during this period and have to adapt to a completely new environment. The risk of illness can be reduced by ensuring high-quality smolt, vaccinations, good conditions and the correct locations for the fish. The Group also has a focus on sustainable feed.
Market risk. The Group's results are strongly dependent on developments in global salmon and trout prices, and now increasingly on whitefish prices, in particular cod. The Group seeks to reduce this risk factor by ensuring that a certain proportion of sales are so-called contract sales. In addition, Norwegian fish farming and the fish-processing industry in Norway and the EU have a history of exposure to the risk represented by the constant threat of long-term political trade barriers imposed by the European Commission. In 2008, the European Commission abolished the programme which involved so-called minimum prices for Norwegian salmon and punitive duties on Norwegian trout. In 2011, punitive duties on whole salmon exported to the USA were also lifted. Russia introduced a ban on imports of salmon and trout from Norway on 7 August 2014. As Russia is normally a major market for Norwegian salmon and trout, the import ban again had a negative impact on realised prices for trout in 2017.
Currency risk. The Group has international operations and is thus exposed to currency risk. The Group makes use of currency derivatives combined with withdrawals/deposits in multi-currency accounts to minimise currency risk on outstanding trade receivables, signed sales contracts and ongoing contractual negotiations. The Group’s long-term liabilities are mainly in Norwegian kroner.
Credit risk. Pursuant to the Group’s strategy for managing credit risk, the Group’s trade receivables are mainly covered by credit insurance or other forms of security. All new customers are subject to credit rating.
Interest rate risk. The majority of the Group’s long-term debt is at floating rates of interest, representing exposure to increases in the market interest rate. Interest rate swap agreements are signed to reduce interest rate risk.
Liquidity risk. The most significant individual factor related to liquidity risk is fluctuation in salmon prices and now, increasingly, prices for whitefish, in particular cod. Liquidity is also affected by fluctuations in production and slaughter volumes and changes in feed prices, which are the predominant single factor on the cost side. Feed costs are impacted by developments in prices for marine raw materials and agricultural products.
Review by the Board of Directors. A significant share of the work of the Board of Directors involves ensuring that the company management is familiar with and understands the Group's risk areas, and that risk is managed by means of appropriate internal control. Frequent evaluations and assessments are conducted of both the management's and Board's understanding of risk and internal control. The audit committee plays an important role in these evaluations and assessments.
Description of the main elements of risk management and internal control related to financial reports. Internal control within the Group is based on the recommendation from the "Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commissions" (COSO), and covers control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring. The content of these various elements is described in detail below.
Control environment. The core of an enterprise is the employees' individual qualities, ethical values and competence, as well as the environment in which they work.
Guidelines for financial reporting. On behalf of the CFO, the Group’s Chief Accountant provides guidelines to entities within the Group. These guidelines set out requirements for both the content of and process for financial reporting.
Organisation and responsibility. The Group’s Chief Accountant reports to the CFO and is responsible for areas such as financial reporting, budgets and internal control of financial reporting within the Group. The Directors of the reporting entities are responsible for continuous financial monitoring and reporting. The entities all have management groups and financial functions which are adapted to their organisation and business.The entity managers shall ensure implementation of appropriate and efficient internal control, and are responsible for compliance with requirements.
The audit committee shall monitor the process of financial reporting and ensure that the Group's internal control and risk management systems function efficiently. The audit committee shall also ensure that the Group has an independent and efficient external auditor. The financial statements for all companies in the Group are audited by an external auditor, within the framework established in international standards for auditing and quality control.
Risk assessment. The Group’s Chief Accountant and the CFO identify, assess and monitor the risk of errors in the Group's financial reports, together with the managers of each entity.
Control activities. Reporting entities are responsible for the implementation of adequate control actions to prevent errors in the financial reports. Processes and control measures have been established to ensure quality assurance of financial reports. These measures comprise mandates, division of work, reconciliation/documentation, IT controls, analyses, management reviews and Board representation within subsidiaries. The Group’s Chief Accountant provides guidelines for financial reporting to the different Group entities. The Group’s Chief Accountant ensures that reporting takes place in accordance with prevailing legislation, accounting standards, established accounting principles and the Board's guidelines. The Chief Accountant and the CFO continuously assess the Group's and the entities' financial reports. Analyses are carried out in relation to previous periods, between different entities and in relation to other companies within the same industry.
Review by Group management. Group management reviews the financial reports on a monthly basis, including the development in the income statement and balance sheet figures.
Reviews by the audit committee, Board and general meeting. The audit committee and Board review the Group's financial reports on a quarterly basis. During such reviews, the audit committee has discussions with the management and external auditor. At least once a year, the Board holds a meeting with the external auditor without managerial presence. The Board reviews the interim accounts per quarter and the proposal for the year-end financial statements. The financial statements are adopted by the annual general meeting.
Information and communication. The Group has a strict policy of providing correct and open information to shareholders, potential shareholders and other stakeholders. Item 13, "Information and communication", contains more detailed information.
Follow-up of reporting entities. Those persons responsible for entities which issue reports shall ensure appropriate and efficient internal control in accordance with requirements and are responsible for compliance with such requirements.
Group level. The Chief Accountant and CFO review the financial reports issued by the entities and the Group, and assess any errors, omissions and required improvements.
External auditor. The external auditor shall provide the audit committee with a description of the main elements of the audit from the previous financial year, in particular significant weak points identified during internal control related to the process of financial reporting.
The Board of Directors. The Board, represented by the audit committee, monitors the financial reporting process.
Integration of havfisk and Norway Seafoods GroupAfter the acquisition in 2016 of 100% of the shares in Havfisk and Norway Seafoods Group, 2017 was the year when whitefish was to be integrated into the Group's well-established value chain – an exciting and demanding process. Norway Seafoods changed its name to Lerøy Norway Seafoods, and a business combination was carried out between the two companies Norway Seafoods AS and Norway Seafoods Group AS. The organisation of Lerøy Norway Seafoods’ factories and the organisation of Havfisk were continued under the wild catch and whitefish segment, while the two companies’ sales and logistics functions were coordinated with the Group's sales and distribution department in Bergen.
With an integrated sales organisation, the Group has now taken an important step forward, and is set to gain an even stronger market position. The further development of existing and new markets for whitefish and improvements to logistics efficiency and synergy effects between redfish and whitefish represent significant opportunities for the Group going forwards. The Lerøy Group now has access to more than 20 percent of all cod from Norway. This affords the company a unique position, and Lerøy is now an unparalleled, fully integrated company with control of the entire value chain within both whitefish and redfish from fjord and sea to the consumer.
New production facility at KjærelvaIn May 2017, Lerøy Vest AS and Sjøtroll Havbruk AS started work on the construction of one of the world’s largest RAS facilities for young fish at Kjærelva in Fitjar municipality. On completion in 2019, the building will be one of the largest and most productive young fish facilities in the world. The facility will have 12 departments, two of which are hatchery departments and 10 are RAS departments for further growth. The production facility will have the most advanced filters for water purification both for input and output water and will have close to zero discharges of nutrient salts. When the facility reaches full production in 2020, the number of employees will increase from the current seven to 25 employees at full operation. The plan is to introduce roe in the second quarter of 2018 and to have the first delivery/release to the sea from the facility in 2019. Over time, the Group has accumulated positive and comprehensive experience of this type of technology, and the investment is expected to help reduce production costs for Lerøy Sjøtroll.
New factory on Jøsnøya islandIn Q4 2016, Lerøy started construction of a new factory on the island of Jøsnøya in Hitra municipality. Completion is scheduled for Q2 2018, and progress is on schedule to date. According to plans, the first fish will be harvested and processed in May 2018. The construction of this factory represents a significant investment that will boost the Group's initiative within processed products. The factory will have a high level of automation, and many of the former manual processes will now be performed by new technology. This new technology has been developed by means of a close and constructive cooperation with several key equipment suppliers. Capacity at the new Jøsnøya facility will be substantially greater than former capacity at the old plant. Capacity for fillet production will see a particular increase, allowing for greater flexibility and room for manoeuvre. As a result of the development, the company’s old slaughter plant on Dolmøya island will be closed in the second quarter of 2018.
Sushi production in Spain Lerøy Processing Spain, the Group's sales and distribution operation in Spain, currently operates a modern factory on the outskirts of Madrid and is a major producer of sushi. In April 2017, they opened a new factory in Barcelona and plan to open yet another factory in Valencia in February 2018. This factory will produce sushi and ready meals, such as Japanese dumplings. It will also have a separate gluten-free department for sushi. The new factory, with its 90 employees, is expected to produce between 16 to 18 million pieces of sushi in 2018. The factories in both Madrid and Barcelona were awarded “High Level” after evaluation by the International Food Standard (IFS) in 2017. This is a common standard and system used to quality-assure and select suppliers. It can be used by dealers to ensure proper food safety for the goods produced.
New factory in the NetherlandsIn April 2017, work started on the construction of a new industrial building for Rodé Vis. Rodé Vis has been part of Lerøy Seafood Group since 2012. The new factory is located in Urk in the Netherlands and is the fifth new facility for the company in the town. Food safety is a central factor at the new factory, as processing lines, cutting technology and packaging lines will be fully automated. Production processes are kept separate, and there is a minimum amount of manual work. Not only is the factory closer to the European market and located close to Schiphol airport, the largest airport in Europe, it is also close to the container terminals in Rotterdam and Antwerp, in total making Urk an ideal location as a European hub for logistics. The factory is scheduled for completion at the start of 2018.
The Board of Directors of Lerøy Seafood Group ASA has one member who is assigned extended responsibility for the environment and sustainability. In the Group, the CEO has main responsibility for this area. The Head of Quality & CSR is responsible for coordinating work involving the environment/sustainability for all the companies within the Group. Responsibility is delegated to the Managing Director of each subsidiary.
Lerøy Seafood Group is one of the largest seafood corporations in the world. We live off the natural resources produced in the sea and rely on these resources being properly managed so that we can continue to sell seafood in the future. The management of Lerøy Seafood Group will do their utmost to ensure that the products manufactured and purchased comply with the prevailing rules and regulations of our industry.
We will furthermore strive to find the most environmentally friendly and sustainable systems for our products via close cooperation with our customers and suppliers of fish feed and transport. Lerøy Seafood Group will continuously seek to introduce improvements that will reduce pollution and help protect the environment. Our employees will focus on the company’s environmental targets. In fact, Lerøy Seafood Group will include the environment as one of its main focus areas going forward, in terms of both employees and our products.
WHAT ARE OUR FOCUS AREAS?
For Lerøy Seafood Group as a corporation, maintaining a constant focus on areas where we have the greatest influence in terms of sustainability is essential. Based on a critical evaluation of the value chain and our processes, we have concluded that we currently have the greatest influence within our work on the different areas related to our ﬁsh-farming activities. A major share of our efforts related to the environment and sustainability will therefore focus on ﬁsh farming.
A materiality assessment was performed in 2015, involving interviews of in-house and external stakeholders. The assessment concluded that our sustainability reports should focus on five main areas: product, employees, environment, society and value chain. These areas will therefore receive particular focus in the company’s GRI and sustainability reports.
Lerøy Seafood Group is a corporation involved in global business and working relationships with suppliers and subcontractors worldwide. In 2017, the Group had more than 5,200 suppliers in Norway alone. Purchasing in Norway in 2017 also involved more than 280 different municipalities. Total purchasing in Norway, excluding intragroup, amounted to NOK 12.5 billion. In order to safeguard all our activities, we have prepared a set of ground rules which apply to us and our partners on a daily basis. Our ethical guidelines have been reviewed by the Board of Directors. The guidelines are based on UN guidelines for human rights. The company management is responsible for ensuring that our ethical guidelines are followed and complied with in full, including by our suppliers and subcontractors.
Our goal is to combine healthy business management with a clear responsibility for society and the environment. As a general rule, Lerøy Seafood Group together with its suppliers and subcontractors shall comply fully with the legislation in the respective countries in which it operates. The Group has a principal rule that the strictest requirements shall be met. In the event of deviations, measures shall be implemented to improve the situation. Each year, Lerøy Seafood group conducts supplier audits to ensure compliance with our guidelines.
The Group’s goal is to contribute towards improving human rights, labour rights and environmental protection, within the Group, in relation to our suppliers and subcontractors, and in relation to trading partners. The Group did not expose any cases of corruption in 2017. Lerøy Seafood Group does not support individual political parties or individual politicians, but the Group engages in public debate when in the interests of the Group. Environmental aspects shall be taken into consideration throughout the production and distribution chain, from production of raw materials to sales, and shall not be limited to the Group’s own activities. Every effort shall be made to safeguard local, regional and global environmental aspects. Aspects regarding animal ethics shall also be given full consideration.
HSE records are extremely important, not just for the purpose of figures and reports, but to allow us to organise our work so we can prevent as many work-related injuries as possible. HSE reports show our employees, suppliers and subcontractors that we take safety seriously.
When using external suppliers and subcontractors, it is important that we inform them of our own safety routines and ensure that our safety routines are followed by external parties involved in our operations. In situations involving employees with different languages and cultural backgrounds, it may be difficult to create a shared safety culture with good compliance. It is therefore important to ensure good communication to achieve full understanding of the prevailing safety routines.
In 2017, Lerøy Seafood Group purchased feed from Biomar, EWOS and Skretting. The main goal is to ensure that the raw materials used in the Group’s feed are both fished or harvested in an ethically sound manner and in compliance with legal frameworks and are based on sustainable harvesting or fishing. The Group cooperates with feed suppliers in the work required to achieve this goal. The Group has established requirements for its suppliers of fish feed to make sure that raw materials are managed in a satisfactory manner. Moreover, the Group will require its suppliers to monitor closely how quotas are established and respected, and how the catch is utilised. Lerøy Seafood Group requires the raw materials in its fish feed to come from areas regulated by national quotas for the respective species, with the quotas being allocated as far as possible in conformance with accepted scientific recommendations, such as ICES, FAO, IMARPE and SERNAPESCA*. The Group requires all of its feed suppliers to prioritise use of raw materials certified in accordance with IFFO’s standard for sustainability, or raw materials with MSC certification or similar. The supplier’s certification scheme should be a member of ISEAL and have guidelines for sustainability requirements, including for small pelagic fisheries. Palm oil should not be used. Raw materials based on soya require “Roundtable on Responsible Soy" (RTRS) certification or similar.
MSC – Marine Stewardship Council – a sustainability standard for fish caught in the wild
ICES – International Council for the Exploration of the Sea – an organisation for enhanced ocean sustainability
FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IMARPE – Instituto del Mar del Perú
SERNAPESCA – Servicio Nacional de Pesca y Acuicultura (Chile)
IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organisation
ISEAL – International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance
RTRS – Roundtable on Responsible Soy
The primary business of the segment Wild Catch and Whitefish is wild fish fished by the company’s trawlers as well as processing of wild fish, mainly cod, saithe, haddock, king crab, snow crab and shrimps.
The Farming segment comprises the Group’s activities involving production of salmon and trout, and includes harvesting and an increasing volume of filleting. The Group produce their own broodstock fish but have a close cooperation with Benchmark and Aqua Gen about breeding programs. The Group companies in this segment represent a major employer along the Norwegian coastline, and strive to be visible and supportive in all operating regions.
The VAP, Sales and Distribution segment has a global reach, and is involved in processing of the Group’s own raw materials as well as a large volume of raw materials from partners and the Group’s network of suppliers, sales, market development, product development and distribution. This segment is also involved in high-value processing of primarily salmon and trout, but also other species. The segment’s products are increasingly sold to a global market.
One paramount element of Lerøy Seafood Group’s strategy is to be a fully integrated supplier of the Group’s key products – Atlantic salmon, trout and whitefish – and business is currently operated via a number of subsidiaries in Norway and abroad. The Group views its operations as regional with a global perspective. The Group aims to be an enterprise with local roots in communities where it has operations, thereby contributing to all local communities irrespective of region and nationality.
“TAKE ACTION TODAY – FOR A DIFFERENCE TOMORROW”
No country in the world can match Norway’s coast in terms of food production. Few nations can boast such a rich coastal culture, where the seafood industry has played such a central role throughout history in providing for vigorous local communities along the coast. With the global population approaching 9 billion (by 2050), it seems perfectly natural for the increased demand for food production to be satisfied by significant growth in fish farming.
For Lerøy Seafood Group, maintaining a focus on the entire concept of sustainability – a concept that encompasses not only the environment, but also social and economic factors – is essential. Our industry plays a significant role within society, and Lerøy Seafood Group in Norway aims to take its social responsibility very seriously, and to ensure that the social benefits provided by our activities are safeguarded by maintaining robust and profitable businesses, and by means of ripple effects within local communities and stronger environmental management within fisheries and fish farming.
Wild Catch and Whitefish
Our operations within fisheries are based on fish as a natural resource. We therefore rely on proper management of the various species in the sea. Limitations on the harvest volumes of individual fish
stocks come from Mother Nature herself. Information on fishing volumes (catch statistics), monitoring of fish stocks and estimates provided by researchers from numerous countries all form the basis for the fishing quotas established. Research and advice from the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) shall help ensure that future generations are able to harvest the major assets in the sea and along the coast. One of the vessels owned by our subsidiary Havfisk is part of the Institute of Marine Research's reference fleet. As such, we play a part in collecting a significant amount of biological data utilised in the research into fish stocks.
Norway enters into negotiations with other countries when total fishing quotas are to be established. The final decisions regarding the total quotas for fishing different species are taken based on stock assessments and advice on quotas from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). More than 90% of the fish resources harvested by Norway are managed in cooperation with other countries. The national quotas in Norway are discussed by the various stakeholders during regulation meetings, for which the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries is responsible. These regulation meetings are held twice a year. Subsequent to the discussions at these meetings, the Directorate of Fisheries issues a proposal for regulation of fisheries to the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. The Ministry issues provisions regarding the distribution of quotas to Norwegian fishing vessels and provisions regarding fisheries in the form of annual regulations for each species of fish.
Our operations are based on public permits for the harvesting of Norwegian fish resources. The entitlement provided by these permits entails statutory obligations in terms of activity and delivery, as well as a responsibility to fish sustainably. It is our aim to be a “proud custodian”, and we have taken an active approach to ensuring full compliance with all regulations involving fisheries. We manage our natural resources on behalf of society as a whole, and therefore accept a particular responsibility for ensuring sustainable operations, leaving behind the smallest possible environmental footprint. The Group monitors all employees and management to ensure compliance with prevailing regulations and quota provisions. The Group has also cooperated with authorities, trade associations and non-governmental organisations to help counteract illegal fishing, thereby safeguarding resources for future generations. Norwegian North-East Arctic cod, haddock and saithe fisheries gained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2010, followed by MSC certification for shrimp fisheries in 2012. These certificates substantiate the sustainability of Norwegian fisheries for these species. The cod, haddock and saithe fisheries were awarded a new five-year certificate in 2015. Our fisheries operations mainly comprise MSC-certified cod, haddock and saithe, in addition to shrimp.
In 2016, Havfisk and the other parties involved in the Norwegian trawling industry entered into the Arktisavtalen (Industry Group Agreement on cod fisheries in the northern part of the North-East Atlantic). As a result of the melting of the ice sheet around the North Pole and so-called new areas becoming accessible, a map has been prepared showing those regions traditionally fished. The parties to the agreement have committed to not fishing in waters north of these areas until the seabed has been charted and it has been established that fishing will not cause permanent damage to vulnerable benthic biotopes. This project continued in 2017, and a dialogue has been established with Norwegian authorities aimed at establishing public regulations in the area to replace the agreement between private actors.
There are 19 areas under Norwegian administration that are protected against bottom trawling. These are mainly found along the coastline and have been established to protect coral and other benthic organisms. Farther north, there is a total prohibition on fishing in an area extending to 12 nautical miles around all the islands surrounding Svalbard. Combined with a more comprehensive nature reserve where fishing is prohibited and a general prohibition on fishing in waters that are shallower than 100 metres around Svalbard, the protected area covers 70,000 square kilometres.
The minimum water depth of 100 metres protects food sources for animals that live on shore and birds that dive for food close to the coast.
A number of other regulatory measures also apply, including a prohibition on fishing deeper than 1000 metres to protect potentially vulnerable benthic biotopes in these areas.
Main goal: Eco-friendly and profitable operations supplying healthy food from sustainable stocks in the cleanest sea waters in the world.
In general, Havfisk has renewed its fleet by rebuilding/modernising some of its older trawlers and selling others. Three new trawlers were delivered from 2013 to 2014. An additional new vessel was delivered on 5 January 2018. The fleet has generally been upgraded by older trawlers being remodeled / modernized and some sold. The new vessels are equipped with modern technology for more environmentally friendly operation. Several vessels in the existing fleet have been upgraded with more eco-friendly solutions. Other vessels have been rebuilt as combi-vessels that can deliver both frozen and fresh fish all year round. This boosts flexibility and reduces fuel consumption when compared with vessels that only deliver fresh fish.
In 2016, Havfisk received a number of subsidies from the NOx fund for investment in equipment that saves on energy compared with current solutions, for example LED lights, variable frequency-controlled compressors, more energy-efficient pumps etc.
R&D PROJECT – SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Havfisk is an industrial partner in an international, interdisciplinary research cooperation project involving the effect of climate change on the marine eco-system – GreenMar. The cooperation comprises research groups within ecology, climate and marine resources. The aim of the project is to increase know-how that will contribute to “green growth” via sustainable administration and utilisation of our marine areas.
In 2016, Havfisk provided information to students at NTNU who were writing a term paper for the “Green Value Creation and Ethical Perspectives” course. By taking part in such projects, we are able to contribute to education and research, while pursuing our goal to expand our own knowledge within this area. Havfisk has ongoing R&D projects relating to increased total utilisation of raw materials. The main aim of these projects is to increase utilisation of resources and boost value creation. Havfisk is also participating in the “E-sushi” project, led by the research organisation SINTEF, together with other enterprises in the fisheries industry. The goal of this project is to gather comprehensive data, so-called big data (large volumes of empirical data), on numerous levels, to gain a better understanding of factors that impact on fisheries. This will allow for better prognoses and information for sustainable management and efficient fisheries.
PLASTIC AND OTHER TRASH IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT
During the past year, plastic seeding of the ocean has gained significantly increased attention. Havfisk relies on the fact that consumers perceive food from the oceans as clean and safe. It is therefore important to give priority to preventing plastic seepage from the seas. Havfisk helps to reduce plastic in the ocean by making sure that no waste on board is released into the ocean. Waste is sorted and burned in a suitable furnace on board, or landed and delivered to approved waste stations. Havfisk participates in the project "Fishing for litter" with all vessels and has thus helped to bring tens of tons of old plastic waste caught on the seabed.
“FISHING FOR LITTER”
Our sea waters and coast are increasingly littered with vast volumes of man-made waste. Pieces of plastic, rubber and other non-degradable materials may remain in the environment for hundreds of years, causing harm to animals and humans. Havfisk’s fleet is involved in the “Fishing for litter” project, a voluntary environmental project to clear up marine waste from the sea, led by the Norwegian Environment Agency. The aim is to send as much of this waste as possible for recycling, by facilitating sorting, registration and recycling of all waste collected.
All waste from land-based processing plants is also taken care of by approved drainage facilities. The waste is sorted into different fractions and collected from the processing plants. We have also arranged for fishermen to be able to deliver waste when they are delivering fish to our plants, We use washable boxes for transportation between our own facilities and also for some of our customers.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND SAFETY GROUP
The purpose of the Environmental and Safety Group is to help the companies identify areas for improvement, suggest measures and provide assistance in applying new knowledge or technology to minimise the risk of accidental release or serious incidents. The Group shall provide competencies and exchange of experience and shall also act as Lerøy Seafood Group’s resource team/internal audit function in the event of serious incidents at sea.
In 2016, the Environmental and Safety Group implemented the “Lerøy standard”, comprising requirements relating to purchase of critical equipment for maritime-based operations, and at the same time standardised working operations that – together with the requirements on equipment – are of decisive importance for safety at the farming facilities.
Throughout 2017, this work has been incorporated into the farming companies’ routines and procedures.
Prevention of accidental release of fish is an extremely important and high-priority area for Lerøy Seafood Group, and we can now see that the initiatives taken by the Group in this area are producing results.
The Group invests a considerable amount of work in optimising equipment and routines specifically to avoid accidental release of fish. Incidents that may result in accidental release – so-called “near-accidents” – are reported to the fisheries authorities, as are any suspicions of accidental release. Securing against accidental release is a question of maintaining a focus on execution/action, good planning of all operations in order to ensure safe execution and efficient nonconformance management and re-examination. In 2017, we have observed that the industry authorities have not yet developed sufficient routines for the receipt and management of “near-accidents” as a tool for improvement. There is substantial potential in this area for gaining knowledge that will benefit the entire industry.
Key elements are: ATTITUDE, ACTION and RESPONSIBILITY. However, these have no impact if not clearly defined by management. Moreover, it is essential that all employees are made aware of their responsibility to ensure zero accidental release of fish within our company.
The Environmental and Safety Group plays an important role in this work and, in addition to internal processes, is also responsible for quality assurance and auditing of our suppliers in their role as supplier from an environmental perspective, an area in which prevention of accidental release is central.
3 incidents involving accidental release were registered by Lerøy Seafood Group in 2017, involving a total of 1.219 fish. This corresponds to 0,0012% of the total number of fish the Group had in the sea in 2017, and 6% of the total volume of accidental release in Norway.
Throughout 2017, the Environmental and Safety Group has evaluated the potential for electrification of LSG's farming operations. The result of these evaluations is the goal to implement electrification of all feed barges in the Group by 2020 in areas where it is possible to establish shore power for barge operations. The remaining barges will be fitted with battery packs for hybrid systems, providing electrical operation of the equipment at certain parts of the day.
Fish health and fish welfare are at the core of our operations as a producer of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. As such, we have both ethical and statutory obligations governed by Norwegian legislation. A healthy fish is also a good fish for production and a prerequisite for good financial results. There are therefore numerous incentives for putting fish health and fish welfare at the top of the agenda for fish farming operations. In an effort to ensure that we continuously fulfil these obligations, the Group has chosen to allocate substantial resources to preventive measures for fish health, and this is now a major part of the production strategy for the entire Group.
At the end of 2017, the companies in the Lerøy Seafood Group had 17 employees who are fish health biologists/veterinaries, and also purchases external fish health services.
The efforts to solve fish health challenges require a multidisciplinary approach involving a number of fields that combine to ensure that the correct and necessary preventive action is taken. The interaction between factors such as technology, the environment, fish disease, nutrition and production biology is part of the whole and forms the basis for how we as a Group work with preventive fish health.
The work to prevent salmon lice and develop successful methods for non-medicinal delousing are central elements in our work on fish health. Salmon lice still represent one of the major biological obstacles to further development of the fish farming industry, and operations involving management and control of salmon lice represent a substantial cost-driver and have implications for fish health and welfare. The Group's salmon lice strategy is sound and shall provide control by means of perpetually effective measures, a focus on individual cages at the highest aggregate level and early intervention in situations where the preventive efforts are not sufficiently effective.
Prevent infection regionally:
Since 2011, Lerøy Seafood Group has chosen to regionalise the value chain for its own fish farming production, from release of roe to slaughter, in order to prevent undesired infection by known and unknown agents. As a result, the Group no longer moves live fish by sea between its three fish farming regions: West Norway, Central Norway and North Norway. This implies major costs for Lerøy in developing regional capacity and biosafety. We are confident that other companies in the industry will recognise the value of implementing similar internal regulations and are sorry to see that the Norwegian authorities are not actively supporting this type of operational measure to prevent the spread of disease.
The use of cleaner fish is one of our most important tools for ensuring low levels of salmon lice at our plants. Cleaner fish are Mother Nature's own way of removing salmon lice on fish. Lerøy has therefore decided to build up substantial production capacity for own cleaner fish and has made major investments in recent years to achieve self-sufficient supply. In principle, production to date has centred around wrasse. Lerøy reported a total release of approx. 8 million wrasse in 2017. The Group also makes use of vast numbers of wrasse caught in the wild and purchased from local fishermen. LSG has concerted efforts to ensure good fish health and fish welfare for cleaner fish in production and has chosen to allocate dedicated fish health resources to the work involving cleaner fish to ensure optimal fish health and welfare for these fish. In 2017, LSG decided to allocate resources to the development of production methods for farming ballan. We expect to release our own farmed ballan to our facilities in 2019.
RAS / POST-SMOLT
Lerøy has invested heavily in the production of juvenile fish in our three farming regions. In 2013, we opened the Belsvik juvenile fish plant in Central Norway, which remains one of the world’s largest and most modern facilities for juvenile fish, with a capacity of approximately 14 million smolt. In 2016, we opened the “new” Laksefjord facility in North Norway with an RAS department for both fresh water and sea water production. This represented an increase in production capacity from 7 to 11 million smolt per year. In 2017, work started on a new RAS facility for post-smolt production in Kjærelva in Hordaland, and the first post-smolt from this facility will be delivered in the spring of 2019. Several major development projects for post-smolt are under planning at LSG in West, Central and North Norway, and the Group has accumulated substantial knowledge of this field over recent years.
R&D, technology and biology projects
Lerøy continuously implements large and smaller R&D projects focusing on:
Improvements to operating routines, improved fish welfare and higher survival rates in addition to optimising production. These are important projects that have a direct impact on daily production, and where the project results and improvements are implemented rapidly. Technological developments and new methods combining technology and biology in interaction are important driving forces for optimising operations.
Lerøy also plays an active part in a number of external and internal R&D programmes and projects. We would like in particular to mention the following:
Several major research programmes target the fresh water phase.
Lerøy actively contributes to a number of projects financed by the FHF, both in the project steering groups and reference groups. The Chairman of the Board for the FHF is an employee of Lerøy. We also have a representative on FHF's specialist group.
VAP, Sales and Distribution
All our downstream companies work towards the same sustainability goals, but within their own business. All companies participate in competency groups, where priority areas are identified.
In 2017, we worked on:
Lerøy Portugal: “Lerøy Portugal works directly with the environment, using its resources properly. Several measures are in place to improve the environmental performance and minimise the environmental impact of its activities, such as:
The company is working with constant improvements and prevention of pollution primarily within the enterprise's prioritized environmental area.
The company's focus is that resources such as raw materials, water and energy should be used in an optimal way as possible in our processes, this to have as low environmental impact as technically and economically possible.
The environmental targets for the company's operations are set for a three-year period. These are revised continuously. The focus areas that the company today actively works with and accompanies KPIs is energy consumption, water consumption, waste management and raw materials.
One of the main duties of the Finnish grocery trade is to take environmental aspects into consideration in all operations. For example, there is a focus on the following environmental issues:
As we see it, both sustainability and environmental issues are “top of mind” items in the Finnish market.
The Board of Directors shall establish an annual plan for its work, with a focus on goals, strategy and execution, in order to ensure continuous follow-up and further development of the company. For several years, and in its eight meetings in 2017, the Board has maintained a particular focus on the connection between practical operations and strategic business development. The Board works purposefully with the company management to make the Group the most profitable fully integrated global seafood company. This work has long been carried out in accordance with our public announcements. The Board’s work reflects this strategy, and the results are shown through management implementation. Although strategic development of the company is a continuous process and part of the work of the Board of Directors, the company also holds dedicated strategy meetings, including in 2017. When recruiting board members, the Group’s owners have already for many years taken into consideration the Group’s need for varied expertise, continuity, renewal and changes in ownership structure.
In 2017, the Board of Lerøy Seafood Group was chaired by Helge Singelstad and the six members were Arne Møgster, Britt Kathrine Drivenes, Hege Charlotte Bakken, Hans Petter Vestre, Marianne Møgster and Didrik Munch. Read more about them in the Group’s annual report. Neither the CEO nor other senior executives in Lerøy Seafood Group ASA are members of the company’s Board of Directors.
When recruiting board members, the company’s owners have for many years considered the company’s needs for varied expertise, continuity, renewal and changes in ownership structure. It will always be in the interest of the company’s stakeholders to ensure that the composition of the Board varies in line with the demands made of the company and with expectations regarding Group performance. The Board’s assessment of its own performance and of Group management must of
necessity be seen in conjunction with the Group’s performance. To date, the Board has not issued reports on its assessment of its own work; this is a conscious priority decision and must be viewed in connection with other announcements in the company’s communications with the public. Moreover, external assessments of the Board’s work are probably the more influential and are likely to remain so in the future.
THE LARGEST SHAREHOLDERS IN LERØY SEAFOOD GROUP:
A stakeholder is an accountant, group, organisation, member or system who affects or can be affected by an organisation's actions. Lerøy Seafood Group has various stakeholders and communicates with these via meetings, annual reports, environmental reports, GRI reports, CDP reports, communication in the media, announcements, registrations, public reporting, joint projects, partnership agreements, the stock exchange, websites etc.
Good communication with stakeholders is important in our daily work. In a new process, we analyse our stakeholders on the basis of their influence on our organisation. This helps us to identify how to engage them more effectively and, more importantly, ensures shared value on both sides of the table.
• Acceptance of topics chosen
• Different perspectives on impacts
• Problem identification
• External impression
Lerøy Seafood Group conducted a materiality analysis in autumn 2015. The study was carried out by a third-party company, PwC, which conducted interviews with a sample of our key external and internal stakeholders. The interviews were conducted by telephone or face to face. The stakeholders were weighted to reflect their importance to Lerøy. The aim of the analysis was to find out which areas our stakeholders consider to be important to report on, and whether these match the areas we ourselves consider important.
The materiality analysis identified five main areas:
• Value chain
The importance attached to topics within these five areas varies among stakeholders.