Jan 2021 Interview with Kjartan Olafsson, Chairman of Icelandic Salmon AS, Iceland
Prisma Reports (PR): The company was established a decade ago and has enjoyed tremendous growth. What are your proudest accomplishments and milestones to date?
Kjartan Olafsson (KO): In 2020, we were listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, which is the world stock exchange for seafood companies. This gave us important access to funding with wide backing from financial investors and a very strong industry partner: SalMar ASA, which has a 51% holding.
The second largest shareholder is Gildi, one of the largest Icelandic pension funds. We produced around 12,000 tonnes of salmon in 2020, about half of all production in the country. We are proud of being well received in the market.
We are a little bit different from some firms in Norway, which is the world’s leading producer. For us at Icelandic Salmon AS, all of our production is ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) certified. There are strong requirements on the sustainability of our production and the way we handle and work with our communities and employees.
We’re proud of that certification and are working on a branding, sales and marketing strategy.
PR: What technologies and innovations are you using to improve both efficiency and sustainability in your operations?
KO: We work closely with successful equipment producers like Skaginn and Marel. They have developed efficient processing equipment for the seafood industry. We work with multiple local and international suppliers and enjoy the rapid technological innovation in the industry.
The investment we have already built in our smolt facilities has been working nicely. In the past few years, we have invested considerably in the freshwater part of the industry where strong and healthy smolts are of great importance.
PR: What is your strategic vision and what do you aim to achieve in the medium to long term?
KO: The strategy in the medium to long term is to realize our growth ambitions and to get a premium product established in the market. We have a job to do in the sales and marketing.
Further down the road, I hope for significantly increased volume, improved logistics and more value-added production, but these features are quite dependent upon predictable regulatory framework and competitive terms for our Icelandic farming industry. I have high hopes for the prospects there.
PR: Do you have any final comments for the readers of Foreign Policy magazine around the world?
KO: Securing global food supply and the importance of healthy, sustainable food production is something that should be of great interest to us all, and we can contribute significantly to that.
Taking healthy proteins and quality fresh food to the global market is something we need to focus on and secure access to. In that sense, I believe our salmon makes the world a slightly better place.