Pelagos Ups Freezing Capacity

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Fuglafjørður’s advanced processing plant Pelagos invests in new plate freezers to raise production capacity by one-fifth to 640 tonnes per day, clearing the way for receiving more calls from pelagic vessels.

[Edmund Jacobsen & Bui Tyril]

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Fuglafjørður-based processing plant Pelagos is poised to attract more landings of pelagic fish as it upgrades its production capacity. With the installation of two new plate freezers, the highly advanced freezing plant will increase its capacity by approximately 20 percent to 640 tonnes per day, according to CEO Jóhan Páll Joensen.

“We’re installing two new plate freezers of the same type as the ones we installed originally,” Mr. Joensen said. “This upgrade addresses some bottleneck issues in the production which we have encountered recently, and with it we expect to resolve that challenge for now. The installation is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2017, and will raise our current freezing capacity of 520 tonnes per day to about 640 tonnes.”

Built in 2014, the Pelagos plant design is a solution developed by Iceland’s Skaginn3x with automated grading, packing, freezing and palletizing. The refrigeration system, delivered by Frost, is specially designed for the automatic plate freezers and to ensure low energy consumption.

The issue of freezing capacity is a critical one in the pelagic processing business, Mr. Joensen noted. “Price and speed are crucial parameters for staying afoot in this game,” he said.

The fish species processed by Pelagos are Atlantic mackerel, herring, blue whiting, capelin and great silver smelt, with mackerel often representing the largest volumes. Much of the produce is exported to Eastern Europe and Asia.

Keeping their processing machinery optimized and geared for a high turnover rate in line with the nature of pelagic fisheries and associated industries is vital for Pelagos, Mr. Joensen said. It’s a competitive business, where fishing vessels look for the most attractive prices for their catch, wanting their catch landed quickly—which means processed as speedily as possible, as processing happens in real time in connection with landing.

With top product quality maintained through rigorous control systems that secure gentle handling of the fish, Pelagos’ new investment adds further production capacity to a highly computerized and automated workflow.

From landing to palletizing—and every step in between—all is handled by robotized systems, making Pelagos one the most advanced facilities of its kind anywhere. Some 42,000 tonnes were processed in 2016, with the same amount expected to be processed this year (2017). The Faroese domestic fleet represents the largest share of raw material to the factory, however foreign vessels frequently call at the freezing plant as well.

Pelagos is owned by Havsbrún, CIG, Framherji (30 percent each) plus a group of local investors.

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