DNB: “Good biology is a combination of skill and luck”

Andreas Witzøe

As we approach the end of 2018, five of the 20 largest companies are on the Oslo Stock Exchange are salmon farmers. In spite of the incredible results, Anne Hvistendahl, chef seafood initiative for DNB and her colleague Dag Sletmo, sees one negative thing for the industry.

“Part of the value creation is due to high demand versus market offerings. Because of the weak biology that has pushed prices upwards,” Hvistendahl said to SalmonBusiness, when we meet the duo responsible for seafood food at the Oslo offices of DNB, the world’s biggest seafood bank.

From the 17th floor we look beyond the Oslo Fjord in the south. To the west, we see the park around the Oslo Stock Exchange, a stock market that is no longer driven only by oil. Black gold has received competition from pink gold.

“It’s quite awesome in the aquaculture industry today, but mortality can go down. And if you get mortality, it will help with further growth in the future,” said Hvistendahl.

In spite of Hvistendal’s general concern, in 2018, there has been improvement in the biology of many of the actors. Hvistendahl acknowledges this, but does not want to draw anyone as particularly good as she believes who performs best will naturally fluctuate over time.

“Good biology is a combination of skill and luck,” she said, looking forward to and receiving support from DNB’s colleague Dag Sletmo:

“But it’s not just lucky you’re lucky. Long-term proficiency gives more luck,” added Sletmo.

Demolishing development
Hvistendahl points out that in 2018, there is still a rapid development throughout the value chain in the aquaculture industry, not only at the end.

“There are many clever heads that are looking towards this industry. Everything from genetic engineering and biotechnology to oil workers looks towards farming. The industry is operating with extreme profitability and is well in demand in the market. We see that in the next few years it will continue in the same lane, ” said Hvistendahl.

She gets up in the chair and leans forward. “That’s how it went. No one believed a few years ago that workers from those fields would look towards farming.”

Safe jobs
Norway, according to the duo, is both the technological and financial centre for the salmon farming industry in the world. And so it will be in the future.

“Fish farming will always be a big industry in Norway. The centre of industry lies here and jobs are safe, despite technological development in the industry,” said Hvistendahl.

She looks at colleague Sletmo who puts down the coffee cup and adds:

“The technological development is happening here, and if the job you are doing is eliminated, you are in the centre of development and in a good position to acquire new knowledge.”

Technology can move jobs back to Norway
Today, most of the processing of salmon is done at a significantly lower cost than could be done in Norway, in Eastern Europe. When most people see technological development as a threat to some jobs, Hvistendahl sees potential in bringing parts of the value chain around the salmon farming industry back to Norway.

“Automatisation can enable us to move parts the processing bit back to Norway. However, high duty on processed products to the EU will unfortunately limit potential. We would like more processing and thus more ingredient industry in Norway, ” she concluded.


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