Struggling land-based salmon farmer Atlantic Sapphire still needs to overcome some production challenges, but fish growth is improving, company executives said in a monthly market update Wednesday.

There is an increased degree of sexual maturation in early fish groups, but less so than the previous quarter, the company noted. Fish farmers strive to limit sexual maturation because it results in slower-growing fish with poorer quality at harvest.

At the same time, new groups of fish now in tanks are doing "extremely well," CEO Johan Andreassen said during Wednesday's telephone conference.

One group of fish is now around 300 grams, 11 months after hatching, he said.

Awaiting insurance settlement

In September, the company's Danish land-based salmon plant burned down. The plant was relatively small, although it had been developed in several stages. The site served as a commercial pilot plant.

There was speculation the plant would not be rebuilt, and that the settlement from the insurance would instead be used for the ongoing construction of phase two of the company's plant in Florida.

Danish police are still investigating the case, and the cause of the fire is not yet publicly known.

“We expect the insurance settlement to come in the first quarter of 2022, but we may also have to wait until the second quarter," CFO Karl Oystein Oyehaug said.

The plant was insured for $33 million (€28.5 million), and there is no requirement that the money must go towards rebuilding the Danish site.

Oyehaug said he expects the Danish police to conclude the investigation by the end of the year.

The company has not yet decided whether it will rebuild the facility.

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New retail promotions

During the call, the company said four successful sales campaigns were carried out in various American supermarket chains in October. All these stores plan more campaigns in the fourth quarter, according to the executives.

Last month, Atlantic Sapphire's "Bluehouse" farmed Atlantic salmon performed below expectations in a recently concluded US retail promotion, the largest ever for land-based salmon of any kind.

The company has also established a separate audit committee but did not disclose further information.

Fluctuating share price

Atlantic Sapphire's share price has fallen 64 percent after several production challenges and the fire, and the valuation hit a record low on Oct. 26.

It has picked up somewhat in the last week, partly following several insider purchases, including by board member Runar Vatne, but on Wednesday, shares fell to NOK 45.65 ($5.33/€4.62), giving the company a market valuation of NOK 4.2 billion ($490 million/€430 million).