Varðin Pelagic: ‘A Truly Comprehensive Platform’

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pp 44-45Varðin Pelagic is the Faroe Islands’ largest producer of pelagic food fish, owned by the country’s leading vessel owner — offering the best of frozen mackerel, herring, blue whiting and capelin, at the highest level of delivery reliability.

Its successful launch in the summer of 2012 became the symbol of the newfound strength of the Faroe Islands’ pelagic fishing industry and, in no small degree, became the face of socioeconomic progress at Tvør­oyri and the surrounding communities.

Varðin Pelagic, the new and highly sophisticated freezing plant hit the ground running with operations handled by Tvør­oyri’s Delta Seafood, reputed for their top-rated processing skills, and capital investment coming from Gøta’s Varðin, a leading Faroese vessel owner.

Already for its first full year in operation Varðin Pelagic’s production output amounted to a stunning 100,000 tonnes. By the end of the following year, i.e. 2014, the total output again came close to that of the previous year, albeit the year saw a greater deal of experimental runs linked to development.

“We are pushing forward in new product and market development,” said CEO Bogi Jacobsen. “With the kind of sourcing we have, coupled with this highly advanced facility, I see no reason why we shouldn’t extend our product range in accordance with market demand. The possibilities are endless so we are working on various options.”

With most clients located in Europe and Eurasia including the Far East, as well as in West Africa, Varðin Pelagic has received some major contracts within a short span of time.

As for product development, most of the activities were not official as of this writing (March 2015).

“It’s no secret that we’ve been working on refining the process of single freezing mackerel,” Mr. Jacobsen said. “Also it’s well known that we’re looking to get more value out of the massive amounts of blue whiting that are being landed. Any actual new products that we expect to result from these efforts will be announced as they become ready.”

Varðin Pelagic’s products are made from the four pelagic species that are being landed to the facility — mackerel, herring, blue whiting, and capelin.

‘Very rigorous’

The infrastructure for sourcing, production, logistics and sales is impressive with Varðin’s fleet of top-notch fishing vessels, the processing plant itself — labeled at the time of completion as the world’s most technologically advanced of its kind — and the company’s large cold store next to the processing plant, not to mention the vastly improved harbor facilities in and around the area, and the services that have been established in the last couple of years.

“This is a truly comprehensive platform,” said sales manager Bogi Johanne­sen. “The fishing vessels land here every week, sometimes several vessels per day, both Varðin’s trawlers and other trawlers too. In fact we can expect to receive foreign vessels as people start to realize that Tvøroyri is fast becoming a major pelagic center in our part of the world. Then consider our production capacity, which is as much as 1,000 tonnes per day. It makes it possible for the trawlers to land their catch relatively quickly as the landing pumps work in sync with the processing lines. So the fresh catch goes direct into the production line and then is immediately packed and frozen, all in a single process that usually takes less than half an hour from the moment the fish passes the landing pipeline. Then as soon as it’s frozen it’s moved to the cold storage where it’s kept until shipment.”

Since Varðin Pelagic opened for business, cargo services at Tvøroyri have improved markedly, encouraged by a new deepwater terminal as well as other harbor facilities that have been added in the last couple of years.

“Logistics handling at Tvøroyri has been taken to a whole new level,” Mr. Johanne­sen added. “We have reefer vessels and container ships calling every week and it’s an absolute necessity considering the volumes of fish that go through this processing plant. Depending on the market, some of the shipments go via reefer vessels while some go by temperature controlled containers.”

Among the top selling products, all of which are frozen: whole round mackerel, headed and gutted mackerel, whole round herring, herring flaps, whole round blue whiting, whole round capelin.

“We have to be very rigorous with regard to quality assurance and we have made product quality an absolute top priority on the work floor and throughout the organization,” Mr. Jacobsen said. “There is simply no room for compromise in this question and we are not going to see our shipments returned for reasons within our control. Our people understand that, and that again is something our clients appreciate.”