Fishing and seafood company Faroe Origin is set to gain stronger foothold in Germany and France for its saithe products after being awarded MSC certification of sustainability — hoping to raise production this year.
Three years after its founding, Faroe Origin is seen to accelerate its transition from mainly processing frozen to primarily focusing on fresh produce. Recently awarded the Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel, the leader of the Faroese saithe business notes renewed progress in Germany, according to production and sales manager Jens Pauli Petersen.
The certification of sustainability, received in June last year (2013), may not change things too dramatically for Origin but is nonetheless seen as a significant milestone with regard to market access, Mr. Petersen said.
“The German market tends to be quite demanding when it comes to the question of certified sustainability; therefore it makes a lot of sense to have a recognized label like MSC. It can help your sales people become more confident, and of course it saves time and effort — once you can refer to the label and its specifications, there’s no great need to explain much about your sourcing. The Germans are acutely aware of ecolabels, and they want to see that the seafood they buy is from a resource that is sustainable and responsibly managed. In reality we’ve always fulfilled those criteria; only, now we can document it according to a generally accepted norm.”
Further south, in France, a similar trend can be spotted, especially in and around Paris.
“You also have the same kind of consumer awareness in the Paris metropolitan area, although perhaps to a somewhat lesser extent compared to what we see in Germany,” Mr. Petersen said. “Overall, the ecolabel clearly offers you an advantage as a seafood producer — in fact it’s becoming a minimum requirement in more and more places. From our point of view, you cannot allow yourself to sit back and ignore this development.
“Besides, many of our clients are very meticulous on product quality and that is something we take seriously. We are determined to do everything in our power to make sure our products meet the highest quality standards. For this reason, we’re constantly looking to find new improvements and betterments in every department.”
‘Quite a lot’: The MSC chain-of-custody certificate encompasses Faroe Origin’s saithe fishery as well as the company’s land-based processing facility and sales offices. The certification program was undertaken in liaison with Klaksvík’s JFK, one of the Faroe Islands’ major fishing companies, and both companies successfully completed the program.
Faroe Origin’s processing plant, located at Runavík and formerly part of what was known as Faroe Seafood, used to focus mainly on frozen products. Since it was taken over by Faroe Origin — the 2011 joint venture of Varðin, Framherji, Samherji and Bacalao — the facility has been refurbished to make room for the processing of fresh chilled products.
During 2013, Origin rolled out some 8,700 tonnes of saithe products for export — mostly fresh fillets and loins, but also other products including frozen portions — with Germany and France taking the lion’s share. Last year’s production, however, slid a few percentage points compared to the previous year, largely on account of poor weather conditions, said CEO Dávid Jacobsen.
“The ambition is to raise our production to 9,000 to 10,000 tonnes,” Mr. Jacobsen said. “That’s where we should be, ideally. Technically this is doubtlessly within reach, but then there are things that you simply cannot control, like the weather. Now, it just so happens that last winter we had an extremely long period of bad weather and rough seas. We hope for improvement during 2014 and luckily the fishing has been very good lately [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][March 2014].”
Origin’s fishing vessels — a fleet of six modern trawlers — have enough licenses and days at sea amongst them to spread activities over the year and secure sufficient amounts of catch for the processing plant to keep going year-round. But as the weather turned out, the trawlers had to limit their operations accordingly.
“We have good reason to be optimistic,” Mr. Jacobsen said. “Our processing facility could use a little more raw materials and we’ve had lousy weather; but as things have turned out in the last few weeks, the fishing has been very good. In short, we are in a good position to win mindshare in the marketplace. Hopefully the trade dispute between the Faroes and the EU over Atlanto-Scandian herring gets resolved sooner rather than later.”
Faroese exports of seafood other than herring remain unscathed, however, with saithe looking promising. “There’s not a lot we can do about the weather; but apart from that, there’s quite a lot.”