North Atlantic Seafood Forum blog: Recap on three busy days

The 13th edition of the world's largest seafood business forum took place in Bergen, Norway, last week. IntraFish was on the ground to get you all the news from the event.

Thursday, March 8, 14.20 p.m. CET

The coated whitefish trap

Whitefish has gained some market share at UK retailers from “more expensive” salmon, but there are some underlying and worrisome trends, according to Simon Smith, CEO of Seachill UK.

Sales of coated fish are rising, but consumers are switching over from more expensive natural products rather than just buying more fish. If prices increase, it could only be a small step until they switch over to even cheaper coated chicken products.

“My real concern is that we another switch from coated fish to coated chicken,” he told the audience at the whitefish seminar on Thursday. “For consumers these products are very interchangeable, it’s a small step. For them it’s just fodder.”

All this comes in light of a current inflation caused by the devaluation of the British pound after the Brexit referendum.

In December, consumer confidence fell to the lowest level in four years in the country, Smith said. The economic cycle is turning, economic growth is slowing and real pay is falling, especially in public sector.

“All that makes shoppers very cautious,” he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 8, 12.30 p.m. CET

The French way

France’s retail market is changing and that will have a major impact on seafood sales, Eric Bernard, head of quality and sustainable development at France’s R&O, told the audience at the whitefish seminar this Thursday.

Retailers still lead on overall seafood sales in France, but the sector is “entering a period of transformation after some difficult years.”

Amazon is growing rapidly, and while it’s not in seafood yet, it probably won’t take long until it will start in that segment, Bernard said.

Consumers are increasingly using smaller shops rather than big hypermarkets, and their expectations are changing, also in terms of certified and organic fish and seafood.

“Retailers have to find a new strategy because the market is changing quickly, that’s very clear,” he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Thursday, March 8, 12.03 p.m. CET

‘Give us a good story’

How do Germans like their whitefish? The answer is a very predictable one: as fish fingers and coated fillets.

Will that ever change? Alexander Wever, owner at AWF Consulting, and Jurgen Pauly, seafood manager at retailer Globus, think so. But it will require some serious work – and a lot of product innovation.

“We have to reinvent whitefish,” Wever said. “We have to learn from salmon and make the product younger, more approachable” and suitable for food trends such as sushi and barbecuing.

More money has to be spent on marketing, and even if it’s just on generic advertising. In addition, schools should be targeted with high-quality whitefish and “not the really cheap stuff” as it’s done today, to lure in consumers at a very early stage.

Pauly said there is a chance for products that have a good story, such as the Norwegian skrei for instance.

“Bring us a good story and we will sell the fish,” he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer



Thursday, March 8, 10.45 a.m. CET

'Relentless' demand for Cape hake

Last year wasn’t without challenges for South Africa's and Namibia's Cape hake industry. But there was one good thing and that was the “relentless demand,” Konrad Geldenhuys, director at Sea Harvest, said this morning.

Namibia has a stable quota of 156,000 metric tons also this year, but South African fishing companies faced a 5 percent drop in the total allowable catch (TAC) to 135,800 metric tons this year.

In addition, the South African rand has strengthened, and the country's economy is still “sluggish” at best, Geldenhuys said.

Combined with a size mix that is leaning toward smaller sizes, the unprecedented drought in the Western Cape and a challenging fishing rights allocation process in South Africa for the inshore fishery, these challenges were at times difficult to stem.

But Geldenhuys remained positive and said the outlook for this year is strong.

In Namibia, the biomass is healthy and should translate into good catch rates. In terms of processing, there is a continued focus on land-based value-adding.

“Demand has been consistent and prices are expected to remain firm,” Geldenhuys said, especially in light of the upcoming MSC certification, which is expected for later this year.

The industry in South Africa on the other hand is looking at 2020, when the MSC recertification for its hake fishery is coming up, together with the deep-sea fishing rights allocation for the following 15 years.

Geldenhuys said the “conservative approach to resource management” has led to a healthy biomass. Frozen-at-sea capacity is increasing and other automation opportunities are increasing productivity and yield on land.

The demand in traditional markets such as southern Europe remains strong and is increasing, and new markets in Germany, The Netherlands and even the Nordics are growing, which is leading to price inflation.

He hopes the new political landscape – with a new president in place now – will also bring more stability to the hake sector, especially in light of the quota allocation in two years.

--Elisabeth Fischer



Thursday, March 8, 10.00 a.m. CET

Times are a changing for pollock

With 600,000 metric tons, 40 vessels, nine shore plants, 250,000 metric tons of value added products -- Trident Seafoods has a lot of sway on the production side. Particularly on Alaska pollock. But Torunn Knoph Halhjem said a major change is underway in the pollock market, and it’s not driven by supply.

“When we project the market, we tend to look too often at just the quota,” she said. “That is changing. It’s getting more complicated.”

Though today’s main market drivers -- Japan for roe and surimi, the US for fillets, Europe for blocks and China for H&G -- can only give a portion of the picture, Halhjem said. The new reality is a surging demand among markets that previously didn’t exist.

“I’ve been with Trident 18 years and we have never seen as rapid an increase as we’ve seen in the past few months,” she said. “This increase is driven by new demand. And a demand-driven market is kind of new for us.”

In Asia alone, for example, single-frozen block exports from the US grew from 9,000 metric tons in 2014 to 26,000 metric tons last year.

“That number surprised even Trident,” Halhjem said.

The numbers bear out in Chinese export statistics. Alaska pollock block exports fell by 37 percent last year.

And the slew of new products indicates the trend as well: McDonald’s Buger King and Starbucks are just a few examples of major chains launching pollock-based products into the Chinese market.

“We’d love to take the credit, but we can’t -- it’s the consumers,” Halhjem said. “If you wonder what keeps me awake at night, it’s where are we going to get all the Alaska pollock to meet demand in the future.”

--Drew Cherry



Thursday, March 8, 9.51 a.m. CET

Tilapia and pangasius slide in key markets

Tilapia imports into the United States, continued to decline in 2017. This drop was driven by falls in frozen whole fish and fillets, with fresh fillets maintaining stable volumes.

Prices declined across all categories.

Pangasius imports also saw “notable” volume decline according to Kontali’s Ragnar Nystol, but Vietnam maintained market share or 95 percent, with combined decreases across all exporters in the market.

Prices in the market rose due to increasing import costs – a situation Kontali does not forsee getting easier in 2018.

Import volumes of the species into the EU also continued to decline, but prices increased slightly, although still sitting at a low base.

There has been a dramatic shift in the direction of trade flow of Vietnamese pangasius in the recent past, said Nystol, with the EU accounting for just 11 percent in 2017, and Asia accounting for 22 percent.

--- Rachel Mutter


Thursday, March 8, 9.47 a.m. CET

Non-Vietnamese pangasius drives farmed whitefish growth

Growth in farmed whitefish drove a 3.5 percent increase in whitefish supplies in 2017, with pangasius production in particular seeing growth, according to figures presented by Ragnar Nystol, head of analysis at Kontali.

Farmed whitefish increased 4 percent. Of this, the biggest increase was seen in pangasius and catfish species growing by 250,000 metric tons during the 12 months to November 2017. But surprisingly, this production increase did not come from Vietnam, with other nations growing their production, largely for domestic sale.

Tilapia on the other hand, saw slow supply growth, with China not contributing to the rise.

The sector also saw small increases in European seabass and bream, plus barramundi, groupers and other marine finfish.

---Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 7, 5.20 p.m. CET

Omega-3 competition

Salmon has always had one competitive advantage over other animal proteins: the Omega-3 promise.

But meat suppliers are closing in and some chicken and beef producers are now starting to fortify their products with Omega-3 – just at the same time as levels in salmon are dropping to new lows, Jill Kauffman Johnson, sustainability and external affairs at Corbion, said.

So how do we raise Omega-3 levels in salmon without putting more pressure on marine resources?

According to Kauffman Johnson and Vidar Gundersen, global sustainability director at feed producer BioMar, it will come from algae.

Corbion is producing AlgaPrime in Brazil, sustainably and with a low environmental footprint, Kauffman Johnson said, calling it “an alternative to fish oil.”

Some salmon producers are already on board, including Leroy and Chile’s Ventisqueros.

--Elisabeth Fischer



Wednesday, March 7, 5.14 p.m. CET

Slice and dice

Peter Drucker claims the best way to predict the future is to create it, and Icelandic processing company Marel is taking him at his word.

A mesmerizing video this afternoon from Marel Managing Director Sigurdur Olason, revealed how artificial intelligence and rapidly developing manufacturing techniques is transitioning fish processing into a far more efficient, more hi-tech process.

The importance of software and IT systems is increasing, and notably, the decisions are being put in the hands of technology. It will outsmart us and make better decisions that we would using big data, said Olason.

It is also happening at a much faster pace than expected, with those not prepared to ride the winding road ahead, destined to drive off the cliff and “be part of history,” said Olason.

--- Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 7, 4.48 p.m. CET

A single point of truth

Using blockchain solves every problem in the food supply chain.

This was the bold claim made by IBM Norway's Olga Kravchencko.

Using the example of a partnership the software giant has formed with Walmart, Kravchencko demonstrated how a blockchain platform can negate risks of food borne illness in your supply chain, as well as fraud -- a problem that costs the food industry around $40 billion annually.

I'm not going to lie... some of the details slightly evaded the grasp of my simple journalist's brain, but essentially, block chain allows access to every detail of the supply chain to every stakeholder in the process, ridding the process of paper, of power and hence of fraud and the possibility of untraceable product issues.

--- Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 7, 4.34 p.m. CET

Where’s the social debate?

The sustainability debate has been going on for years and years but it’s usually leaving out a pressing issue: the social agenda.

“We’re mostly focusing on environmental issues but the social agenda is somehow less promoted and less talked about,” Didier Bergeret, director at The Consumer Goods Forum, said.

The seafood sector, he said, has been identified as one of the sectors with the “most endemic and worst working conditions” and current sustainability standards don’t currently include adequate social criteria.

According to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), estimations are that 40 million people are currently victims of modern slavery, and 11 percent of these are directly linked to the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.

Bergeret stressed modern slavery can happen anywhere around the world.

The Consumer Goods Forum in 2016 launched the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative, linking major retailers and companies operating in the consumer goods industry.

Its aim is to eradicate modern slavery from supply chains once and for all – and seafood will be very much affected by it.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 7, 4.20 p.m. CET

Sunny weather for salmon

Pareto Securities Analyst Carl-Emil Kjolaas Johannesen painted a positive picture for the salmon farming industry in the coming year, noting that his firm is projecting an average Atlantic salmon price per kilo of NOK 56 for 2018, NOK 60 in 2019 and NOK 61 in 2020 -- all above other projections.

Demand for all key markets have been strong, with salmon consumption in the fourth quarter of 2017 the most ever consumed.

Long term, Pareto is bullish on the growth through 2025 as well, with an expected CAGR of around 4.7 percent, thanks to new technology, farming in Iceland and East Canada, and land-based salmon farming projects.

“But I struggle to see volume growth high enough to lead to any big collapse in salmon prices,” Johannesen said. “There are a lot more markets to build out, and traditional markets are still craving salmon.”

--Drew Cherry



Wednesday, March 7, 4.18 p.m. CET

Spreading the word

Transferring technology between different sectors of the aquaculture industry is easier said than done, and some of the world’s top sector executives have mixed view on how – and when – to do it.

For EW Group Director Odd Magne Rodseth it is a source of disappointment that sectors have to constantly “reinvent the wheel” when there are fundamental biosecurity structures that could be transferred between sectors.

Taking part in a panel chaired by IntraFish’s Drew Cherry, Cargill’s Einar Wathne agreed, but argued it is a mistake for tech companies to think they can take their products into markets that need another 15 years to develop. “It is the same with feed,” said Wathne.

George Chamberlain agreed that standardization was a long way off in what is a very fragmented system, but said he thought there was a “tremendous amount of learning” to be done between aquaculture sectors.

1e11f6e91b06132d4b1330ff8145120b Marine Harvest's Ole Eirik Leroy, EW Group's Odd Magne Rodseth, WWF's Karoline Andaur, Salmones Camanchaca's Ricardo Garcia, GAA's George Chamberlain and Cargill's Einar Wathne.  Photo: IntraFish

--- Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 7, 4.11 p.m. CET

The 2017 Salmon Paradox

Last year saw the largest single percentage drop in salmon prices in recorded history, notes Kontali Head of Analysis Ragnar Nystol told NASF attendees.

And yet, overall earnings for salmon farming major companies across the globe reached record levels approaching $5 billion, Nystol said.

Norway’s contribution to the overall volume was down significantly from the year prior, to 60 percent, the result of increased productivity out of Chile.

--Drew Cherry



Wednesday, March 7, 4.02 p.m. CET

Fast-moving changes

Harvest volumes of Atlantic salmon -- and thus harvest projections -- change quickly, noted Kontali Analyse Head of Analysis Ragnar Lystol said.

That said, the industry relies on Kontali to be one of the most reliable sources for production estimates, so their opinion matters.

So: Kontali estimates just over 2.4 million metric tons of Atlantic salmon production in 2018, a rise of 4 percent over the year prior, when production reached an estimated 2.305 million metric tons.

--Drew Cherry



Wednesday, March 7, 4.00 p.m. CET

Make love, not war

Invest in times of peace and not just in times of war was the advice of Cargill Aqua Nutrition President Einar Wathne this afternoon.

Wathne was reflecting on the reactionary nature of the aquaculture industry and its tendency to work on solutions only as problems come to light.

Of course, for a company as big as Cargill, whose R&D spend far outweighs that of many of its competitors, this is an easier approach than for most.

Still, with aqua feed usage decreasing for the last two years, Wathne's sector of the company has its own challenges.

There is not the growth we would have like to have seen in shrimp, salmon or whitefish, said Wathne. "We have a long term nice trajectory in front of us, but there are hurdles."

--- Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 7, 3.49 p.m. CET

Ensuring social licence

It may have the demand, but does aquaculture have social licence to expand?

This was the question Global Aquaculture Alliance's George Chamberlain asked the audience at this afternoon's Aquaculture & Salmon session.

With ongoing disease and social issues, Chamberlain proposed there were three pillars needed for aquaculture to grow in the future: Trust, control and efficiency.

Trust in terms of food safety, social accountability, environmental responsibility and animal health and welfare. Control in terms of predictability and implementation of disruptive tech. And efficiency in terms of producing more with less resources using genetics, feed and water use.

"With continuous improvement these things become possible," said Chamberlain.

--- Rachel Mutter


Wednesday, March 7, 2.33 p.m. CET

Illegal fishing: low risk, high profits

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is still a huge challenge to the entire seafood industry – and that means a lot of money is lost, Huw Thomas, senior officer at Pew Charitable Trust, said.

One in five wild-caught fish are estimated to be caught outside of regulations, which relates to about 11 to 26 million metric tons of fish a year. Up to $23 billion revenue is lost per year, he said.

IUU fishing undermines food security, global nutrition, and employment, assured supply volumes and penalizes compliant actors.

So why does it still exist? For once it’s still a high profit and low risk for people to fish illegally.

Ocean areas are vast and difficult to monitor, there’s limited national capacity for fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance and laws are either weak or non-existent, he said.

There’s also still a lack of consistent port controls, nations don’t always share information within or between them and there are no global requirements for vessel tracking and identification.

In addition, it’s easy to conceal identity and to offload catch and a lack of data to inform fisheries management.

This all is in stark contrast to what consumers want, Huw said, which is sustainability.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 7, 2.18 p.m. CET

No future without sustainability

Some people in this industry still believe sustainability is a nice add-on to a businesses marketing strategy, but Hugo Byrns, vice president CSR at Ahold/Delhaize, set it straight once and for all this afternoon.

“Sustainability is important and we strongly believe it is the reason why we will still exist in 10 years from now,” he said at this afternoon’s Sustainability Seminar at NASF.

The retailer, which merged in 2016, implemented its own approach to make sure it’s supply chain is 100 percent sustainable, the Trident Approach.

Suppliers, or their seafood, have to be certified against ASC, GAA, BAP or any GSSI benchmarked standard.

Should a local, small-scale producer – Byrns mentioned small-scale carp producers in the Czech Republic as one example – have no certification then it will be assessed by an expert third part using science-based criteria.

Ahold/Delhaize will also accept products sourced from a credible fishery in improvement or aquaculture in improvement projects, or a farm or fishery that it’s in assessment toward certification.

Byrns said the supermarket chain is already looking to the future. The “next big issue,” as he called it is to tackle plastic packaging and waste.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 7, 12.33 p.m. CET

Call to action

As threats to the world and their relative impacts shift, environmental concerns have come to the fore, according to Dominic Waughray, head of public/private partnership, member of the executive committee, World Economic Forum, Geneva.

Along with terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, the rising risk of a changing environment is an issue too big for single governments to tackle and it is essential that the private sector gets involved.

In light of this, the Ocean Action Agenda has been implemented in tandem with the Paris Climate Agreement. “This means the international community is trying to grind its gears to fix this,” said Waughray.

Some 1420 commitments have already been made from people of the communities of ocean action, but now the key is to create very specific swim lanes that involve business communities, science communities and key nations to provide solutions.

And listen up folks, because promotion of aquaculture as one of the protein delivery systems around the world is where is where the World Economic Forum is looking for help from the private sector, said Waughray.

--- Rachel Mutter



Wednesday, March 7, 11.58 a.m. CET

One the move

No question, IMR’s Svein Sundby said -- we are going to see displacement of species as a result of climate change.

It’s a complicated picture, but simply put, species around the Equatorial region will not be able to stay where they are as the water warms, and species near the poles used to thriving at extremely cold temperatures won’t have anywhere to go.

In a study of the dispersion of fish in the 20th century, a huge number of species moved toward the North Pole, and Sunby said that is expected to continue.

Invasive species and species typically located in other areas, meanwhile, are changing locations as well.

Imagine the political chaos all these moving fish will bring.

--Drew Cherry



Wednesday, March 7, 11.34 a.m. CET

Separating fact from fiction

Svein Sundby, of the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) Norway, painted a bleak -- but honest -- view of climate change for NASF delegates.

Climate change skeptics often point to natural variations in climate (and to cold snaps in particular) as evidence that human-caused climate change is a myth. The most comprehensive long-term data, however, shows that it’s both a combination of this long-term natural climate variability -- the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, for example -- and the global anthropogenic climate change, Sundby said.

But, Sundby noted of the AMO and NAO, “these are not global phenomenal -- these are smaller scale signals.”

When we look at climate on a global scale (below), the figures are quite clear -- with the key commonality being human activity. Get ready to adjust your business model.

--Drew Cherry



Wednesday, March 7, 11.19 a.m. CET

Seafood’s enormous opportunity in China

Thought the Chinese opportunity for seafood is a big one? Think again – it’s actually enormous.

Chinese consumers are “voracious in their appetite for seafood,” Alibaba President Michael Evans said during his keynote address this morning.

They’re typically young, they have disposable income as middle class and wages are rising, and are curious to try out new things.

Today, more than 50 percent of their disposable income goes into spending on food and clothes. “This trend is very important,” Evans said, adding it will continue to grow.

In addition, they travel around the world and are becoming the “best ambassadors for brands” they get to know overseas.

“Market opportunities in China are enormous” for premium, high-quality seafood, Evans said.

And consumption trends are changing. Chinese consumers are increasingly demanding fresh meat, fish, milk and fruits and it is best if it’s high-quality. Due to a number of food safety scandals, many prefer imported food, Evans said.

Much of this growth will come online – and Alibaba’s growth path since it was founded in 1999 cements this fact.

Alibaba today boasts 10 different ecommerce platforms in addition to offline retailing. Evans called this “new retail.”

Its online platforms have 580 million active consumers daily, and more than 10 million active merchants. With a turnover of $547 billion annually, Alibaba sends out 60 million packages every day.

These trends are going to be significant for businesses around the world and improvements in the supply chain enables companies to send their fresh or live seafood to the country without impacting the quality of products.

Alibaba is constantly looking for new businesses to sell their products via its platforms. “We want to buy the best seafood from anywhere in the world,” Evans said.

Plans are also underway to expand to other countries. “We’re very focused on southeast Asia,” he said, while naming countries such as Indonesia, Philippine, India, Pakistan, Thailand and even Russia.

The aim is to serve 2 to 2.1 billion consumers every day in the future. “They’re huge consumer markets and still very underdeveloped,” Evans said.

--Elisabeth Fischer



Wednesday, March 7, 9.40 a.m. CET

Come together, right now

Cooperation is key in developing the seafood industry, said an ailing Roy Angelvik, Norway's deputy minister of fisheries, who left his sick bed in the name of aquaculture and fishing this morning.

And this should stretch across knowledge, technology and regulation.

"People investing [in the seafood sector] want the best return," said Angelvik. "And in the big picture, an investment in knowledge gets the best returns."

As we all know, the need for food, energy and transport has increased rapidly, but climate and environmental change are among the biggest challenges.

"We know that the oceans offer many of the solutions to this, among them healthy and tasty seafood," said Angelvik.

In order to aid cooperation in this arena, Norway is creating a high level panel, consisting of heads of government in a number of coastal states. In close cooperation with the UN, the panel will work on closer, bilateral contact on business, environment, other marine-related items.

Among the issues to be tackled are the massive problem of criminal networks operating in fisheries, as well as how to handle the impacts of Brexit and growth in aquaculture.

Norway also has among its priorities, the re-opening of the huge Chinese market for Norwegian seafood exports -- and not just for salmon, but for cod and mackerel, too.

But first and foremost, Norway must retain a global outlook, said Angelvik.

With rising demand, more seafood must be produced, but it must be produced sustainably. "Sharing knowledge and competence creates the foundation for new ideas and new jobs," he said.

--- Rachel Mutter



Wednesday, March 7, 9.22 a.m. CET

‘The B word is out’

Guus Pastoor, chairman of AIPCE, officially kicked off NASF 2018 this morning and this year he did so on a slightly more negative note.

A few years ago, free trade agreements were still up for discussion but things have changed with Brexit and US President Donald Trump’s protective trade policies.

“The B word is out,” Pastoor said of the United Kingdom’s plans to leave to European Union in March 2019. The main outcome of a roundtable organized on Monday here at NASF was that “it’s very unpredictable,” he said.

“There’s a lot at stake,” he said. Fishing access, sustainable fisheries policies but also trade agreements are the biggest concerns.

In addition, the EU is due to come up with “a list of retaliation” today in response to Trump’s plans to put import tariffs on aluminum and steel.

“We don’t know if fish is on there and it’s not likely, but who knows,” Pastoor said. But overall, these developments “are not a good sign. It’s a sign we’re heading into the wrong direction.

“It’s just difficult to see the positive aspects,” he said.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Wednesday, March 7, 7.44 a.m. CET

Spilling the beans on increased production

Vidar Myre thinks salmon farmers can produce an extra 200 metric tons of fish per generation, per licence, with his company’s new technology.

Spillfree creates a probability of feeding needs based on historical data and adjusts feed inputs according to the trends it identifies.

“The cost of feed spill is great, as is the environmental impact,” said Myre. “Plus the requirement for maximum growth is not fulfilled.

“We think companies today have all the equipment they need to make a really big improvement in production.”

--- Rachel Mutter


Tuesday, March 6, 6.20 p.m. CET

Fish farming’s innovation gap

The fish farming industry in Norway is on an innovation drive – no doubt. But most of this innovation is happening upstream, on the production side of things, Magne Supphellen, professor of marketing at the Norwegian School of Economics, lamented at the Young Seafood Leaders Summit this evening.

These innovations are needed as they’re “focusing on efficiency and product quality,” he said. But at the same time there is a large need for another kind of innovation, something Supphellen called “downstream innovation.”

There, the main focus is not the product but customer experience, and in the wider sense sales, distribution, branding and pricing.

“We need much more innovation downstream,” Supphellen said. He mentioned the example of Coldwater Prawns of Norway, a company who completely changed the picture for Norwegian shrimp.

Launched in 2007/2008, the company wanted to battle lower selling prices and higher cost – and did so successfully by creating higher consumer expectations and a more valuable customer experience through a brand.

Collecting fresh, in-depth insight on customers and markets over and over again is a must for successful downstream innovation, Supphellen said. In addition, companies also have to build up systems, routines and a culture to succeed.

Culture, he said, is the main barrier for companies which had production in their focus for decades.

“If you want to change culture you have to take the time to build knowledge,” he said. “Then you’ll change perception and change attitudes.”

Supphellen believes there are “tremendous” opportunities for seafood in the future.

“Only 2-3 percent of our food today comes from the sea. That will change and has to change,” he said. “But to drive this change we’ll have to change consumer perceptions. That’s why we need downstream innovation.”

--Elisabeth Fischer



Tuesday, March 6, 5.05 p.m. CET

The next reality of salmon farming

Land-based, open cage or offshore – how will we farm our salmon in 10 years’ time?

Catarina Martins, group manager environment and sustainability, global R&D at Marine Harvest, believes it will a combination of it all, depending on the individuality of where the farms are located.

But the future will be a “next reality,” where new technologies will play a major part, she said at the Young Seafood Leaders Summit this afternoon.

Most of us cannot even start imagining how new tech, big data and digitalization will change salmon farming in the future and that’s why companies should urgently start investing in tech-savvy, young people now.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 6, 4.30 p.m. CET

Want branding success? Keep it focused

Bacardi King, category analyst at Seachill UK – which owns the successful The Saucy Fish brand – had a simple but important message to brand managers who want their products to succeed with consumers.

Know your consumers, have focused brand messages and remember…consumers think with their head and their heart.

Mic drop.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 6, 4.14 p.m. CET

Money dreams

What’s the saddest thing about the seafood industry? The fact that most companies are privately owned, Hogne Tyssoy, portfolio manager and co-founder at Holberg Fondene, said this afternoon.

Getting listed should be the main target for any company in operating within the industry, he suggested.

Investor interest in seafood is huge as it’s a “growth market. That’s a very important factor for investors and for earning money,” he said.

Holberg launched in February 2015 and since then invested in 27 companies, including Bakkafrost, Clearwater Seafoods, Sanford, Austevoll Seafood, Vinh Hoan, Marine Harvest, High Liner, Thai Union, Dongwon, Frosta and more.

“We hope that more companies will mature enough to get publicly listed,” Tyssoy said. “But the threshold for this seems to be growing higher and higher.”

--Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 6, 3.00 p.m. CET

A personalized approach to fish farming

If other industries do it, why can’t aquaculture? This was a common theme of the tech session this afternoon. And Geir Stange Hauge, CEO of Biosort used it to demonstrate the possible benefits of “individualized aquaculture”.

Using cattle farming as his example, he explained the opportunities offered by health profiling each animal in a farm – whether cattle or fish – and treating it according to its particular challenges, such as abnormal growth rates, disease or sealice.

Having extensively trialed its iFarm system with salmon farmer Cermaq, the company is now working on full-scale development.

Aside from the benefits of treating each fish as an individual, the data collection from billions of individuals – should the system be installed on a large scale in the industry – will allow “sustainable growth on a local, national and international level,” said Hauge.

--- Rachel Mutter


Tuesday, March 6, 2.50 p.m. CET

Zappy happy

Inspired by the slightly cruel game of burning ants with a magnifying glass as children, Stingray Marine Solutions sealice zapping technology is finally being taken seriously, according to CEO John Arne Breivik.

With 200 laser nodes now out in the industry, the system has proven itself as “game-changing technology” said Breivik.

The system detects sea lice on the salmon in cages using technology similar to that of facial recognition technology implemented by the likes of Google and Facebook. Once detected, the system delivers a laser pulse with just enough energy to destroy the sealice.

As for the salmon, their shiny reflective scales protect them from wounds, allowing the system to kill 10s of thousands of sealice per day.

--- Rachel Mutter


Tuesday, March 6, 2.43 p.m. CET

Alien -- the return

Looking more like something out of Alien than an aquaculture production aid, Eelume’s autonomous underwater vehicle is set to bring a new flexibility to underwater inspection of cages and mooring lines.

Owned by Statoil, Konsberg and NTNU Amos, Eelume is firmly planted in the oil and gas sector, but wants to bring its modular snake-like inspection system to aquaculture.

Cameras, thrusters and other tech can be added as needed to the swimming manipulator arm and the vehicle is engineered to live permanently under the water, reducing the cost of surface vehicles.

“The future is not that far away,” said Eelume CEO Arne Kjørsvik.

-- Rachel Mutter


Tuesday, March 6, 2.40 p.m. CET

Stronger together

Climate change, dwindling marine stocks and ocean pollution are issues on everyone’s mind working in the seafood industry today. Or at least they should be because these challenges have grown so big that one single company won’t be able to fix things on its own.

But together, there’s a real chance for change.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” an African proverb goes, as cited by Einar Wathne, CEO of Cargill Aqua Nutrition, when he explained the group’s participation in SeaBOS.

Officially launched in 2016, the basic idea of SeaBOS, which stands for Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship, is to connect seafood’s “keystone actors” to tackle the environmental issues they’re all facing together.

For Cargill, it was a no-brainer to join, Wathne said.

Talking about the slavery crisis in the Thai fishing industry some years ago, which soon rippled through the whole seafood industry, Cargill realized it was “not structured to do it alone.”

But backed by the science, delivered by the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden, which started the research on the keystone actors already back in 2012 and kickstarted the process, “we started to realize what we could do together,” Wathne said.

The member companies – which now include Thai Union, Dongwon, Maruha Nichiro, Nissui, Marine Harvest, Cermaq, Skretting, CP Foods, Kyokuyo and Cargill – are now “ready to start delivering on the areas we have defined,” Wathne said.

Statements made during the first two Keystone Dialogue meetings in 2017 are now being translated into operational activities together with NGOs and government organizations.

Four taskforces were formed in May 2017: Eliminating IUU fishing and modern slavery, advancing traceability and transparency, advancing regulatory context and lastly work plan, strategy and governance. The next working meeting is set for May this year and the next Keystone Dialogue is planned for September.

“We feel we’re part of something new and we were surprised what impact we could have together,” Wathne said.

Now SeaBOS just needs to start delivering real progress to tackle these challenges head-on.

--Elisabeth Fischer


Tuesday, March 6, 3.00 p.m. CET

Digital first, but carefully

Kjetil Haga, partner and co-founder of investment group Broodstock Capital Partners, gave the audience at NASF his group's view on digitization in the seafood sector, and why his company invested recently in software company Maritech.

Broodstock operates two funds, with three investments so far -- Billund, Multi Pump Innovation and Maritech -- in-line with its strategy of investing in aquaculture and seafood service and equipment companies that are leaders in their respective sectors.

Digitization remains one of the key hurdles facing the industry on its growth path, and seafood, Haga said, is ripe for digitalization. For example, while salmon production volume is sizeable, so is the production cost, and so is productivity per employee.

"How can we develop new markets and travel the world and convince pepole to eat more salmon when these are the trends we're fighting?" Haga said.

All of the above challenges could be at least reduced by technological and digital advancements -- but exactly how to do that sometimes baffles companies.

"The problem we often see is that companies jump into investment that may have limited value and that the value chain is not ready for," he said. "Making the wrong technology choices can be devastating for a smaller company."

Targeting smaller tasks first is a much wiser approach, Haga said, instead of trying to "digitize" the entire operation.

But status quo -- particularly as the industry scales up -- isnt' an option.

"We need to do something -- it's an industry problem," he said.

Maritech, Broodstock is betting, will be one of the companies driving the change.

--Drew Cherry


Tuesday, March 6, 11.30 a.m. CET

Heading out to sea

SalMar CEO Trond Williksen gave the audience at the NASF Day Zero Global Aquatech summit his company's justification for the huge Ocean One offshore salmon farming project.

"We have a global challenge that needs solved," he noted, of the 9 billion people expected by 2050. "We need to produce more food to sustain that population."

Land -- including area for land-based aquaculture -- is inherently limited.

"Luckily, we have the ocean," he said.

Currently, only 3 percent of the world's food is produced on the oceans, he noted, though water covers 70 percent of the globe.

The salmon farming industry in particular can meet this need, Williksen said.

While the company has been able to grow rapidly from the 98 tons it produced in 1971 to today, over the last five to six years, the industry has moved into a more stagnant phase as limitations on near-shore growth have expanded. Where to go? Offshore.

But to do that, Williksen said, the salmon farming industry would need help.

"We saw that we needed to use all the competence that had been gained over the years, but we also saw that to take the next steps, we have to find new alliances," Williksen said.

So three years ago, in partnership with Kongsberg, Sintek, Global Maritime and NTNU, the group began developing the Ocean One project, the 68-meter, 110-meter diameter farm that is now in the pilot phase, with fish stocked at the end of last year.

While conventional salmon farming will remain the "backbone of the industry," Williksen said, "this could reprresent a new area where we could develop an industry that has all the fundamentals."

Success won't come overnight, and Salmar sees Ocean One as a venture project.

"This is about being in front," he said. "Our focus is now very much to do the operational phase as good as possible. In order to succeed, we need to build on a knowledge base we can expand on."

That means moving from an "experienced-based approach" to a more knowledge- and technology-based approach, that will create an entirely new arena for innovation.

The outlook? So far, so good.

"This could work," Williksen said. "This will work."

--Drew Cherry


Tuesday, March 6, 11.15 a.m. CET

Buyer beware

For a company selling aquaculture systems and services, you'd think Trond Severinsen, SVP of Technology and Development at Akva Group would talk up all the incredible potential for aquaculture development around the world.

Instead, he sent a sobering message: the world is not Norway, and all fish are not salmon.

"It's easy to buy nets and cages and moorings," Severinsen said.

But the advancement in technology, regulatory frameworks and fish health among a dozen other factors means that the "new salmon" is likely years away.

"It's difficult to just export salmon technology," Severinsen said.

While a feed barge control room is becoming more and more like a space ship bridge, "it's not going to be easy to sell this to a tilapia farmer in a lake in Kenya."

While interest in cage-farming is growing around the world -- over 30 percent of Akva's revenues, for example, now come from outside of Norway -- the technology gap is really widening, he said.

Cage farming for tilapia, barramundi and cobia all have the potential to expand quickly, and there are big plans in nearly every suitable country, he added.

But oftentimes those projects fail to have all the key issues in pace, from sustainability to social license to financing.

With his travels around the world to areas that hold major potential -- from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean to Indonesia -- Severinsen sees a lot of hurdles to growth to reach the level of sophistication anywhere near salmon.

"I can assure you -- it's not an easy task," Severinsen said. "I doubt I'll experience it in my lifetime."

But there are developments that will spur growth outside of conventional farming. The Atlantis Subsea Farming project Akva is working on with Sinkaberg and Egersund Nets, for example, can help the industry move into more challenging conditions.

Bigger means more expensive, and that means more investment -- the most critical part of any aquaculture business behind basic competence.

Cutting corners doesn't pay off no matter where an operation is located, he noted -- and ultimately nobody, including the supplier, comes out on top.

"A 10-meter wave in Norway is a 10-meter wave in Turkey and Africa," Severinsen said. "The most expensive cages are the broken ones where the fish has escaped."

--Drew Cherry


Tuesday, March 6, 10.00 a.m. CET

NASF 2018 kicks off in Bergen

Another year has passed and the global seafood community is back in Bergen, Norway, for the 13th edition of the renowned North Atlantic Seafood Forum (NASF).

Continuing the main theme from last year's event, this year's conference is again focusing on global seafood trade and market access.

Tuesday's Day Zero features a global aquatech summit, a special session on Brexit and the NASF Young Seafood Leaders Summit.

Click here to see the packed conference program.

IntraFish is also organizing its second Women in Seafood Leadership Summit on Thursday evening. Click here for more info and to register for a seat.

To recap on all the news from last year's conference click here.

--IntraFish Media