Whitefish processor pivots to salmon

Editorial Staff

Veteran whitefish processor FineFish was on the rocks – until a pivot to salmon gave the company a new lease of life

Seafood supplier FineFish is based in idyllic surroundings on the Norwegian coast midway between Bergen and Trondheim. For more than 60 years, the company has processed assorted fish species such as cod, haddock, pollock, and cusk from the local fishing fleet based in Sunnmøre. But in recent years, things have been going downhill.

“We’ve been relatively comfortable with the supply of white fish since the mid-90s, but now availability is declining rapidly. Our daily lives have become increasingly unpredictable, and it has reached a critical point for our company, says FineFish CEO Ole Sande. “We have a facility with significant capacity, but not enough fish are being landed. The problem is that there are few boats left in our region, and the quotas are too small.”

Breaking: EU salmon processors form union demanding end to prodfisk export ban

Encountering capacity problems

The company were forced to think differently and take action before it was too late.

“Last year, we established an emergency processing facility where we could receive fish from well boats. We wanted to be a place that could process this type of fish.”

The management at FineFish quickly realized that they had to change their original plans.

FineFish CEO Ole Sande

“The amount of production fish offered to us was so large that it became difficult for us to handle so much fish because there wasn’t enough production capacity with other actors who were supposed to take care of filleting. We couldn’t buy as much salmon as we wanted because it got stuck in the next stage. And manual cutting of the fish in our own facility is not a viable option. So we figured we might as well do the job ourselves,” says Sande.

The glut of fish prompted FineFish to put a new processing plant in place as soon as possible.

“It was natural for us to use BAADER, with whom we have collaborated for many years. Salmon is a relatively new product for Fine Fish, and they helped us find good and customized solutions because we had to be sure that we get what we need. And the time from contract signing to the factory being put into use on 1 June was extremely short considering our needs. BAADER has been incredibly solution-oriented throughout the process.”

Processing locally

Even though FineFish is situated in the heart of Sunnmøre with sea on their doorstep, they are also far from many of the customers worldwide.

And Sande is adamant about one thing. Processing should happen locally because there is so much expertise at facilities like FineFish. He does not want the salmon to be sent out of the country until it is ensured that the quality is top-notch.

“It is crucial for Norwegian salmon that the industry is very meticulous about only sending out top-quality products because the brand is very strong in global markets. We must preserve it by processing the fish here at home to ensure that the quality is as good as it should be.”

The shift not only secures the company’s future but also significantly impacts the local community of Sandsøya, where the company is based. The new plant is expected to employ between 40-50 people in an area with a population of about 200. “We depend on all the jobs here because we have none to lose,” Sande concluded.


Related Articles