Bakkafrost sets ambitious five year harvest targets

Bakkafrost has set bullish harvest targets for its Faroese and Scottish farms over the next three to five years.

By 2026 the plan is for production of 95,000 tonnes in the Faroe Islands and 45,000 tonnes in Scotland.

But in 2028 that should increase to 110,000 tonnes in the Faroe Islands and 55,000 tonnes in Scotland. That would represent an 82% increase on the combined harvest figure for last year, which was 90,600 tonnes.

The plans were outlined at the company’s Capital Markets Day, held for the first time in Inverness, Scotland.

Ian Laister, managing director and Dave Cockerill, biology director of Bakkafrost Scotland respectively, outlined the situation in the UK’s 37 active sites.

Shareholders were told that survivability and harvest weights in Scotland were improving significantly thanks to various company measures. Gill health had presented the main problem.

But there had also been issues with PD (Pancreas Disease) and CMS (Cardiomyopathy Syndrome).

Gill health was now 45% lower than the industry average while lice was being maintained at the lowest recorded level.

The event was told that Bakkafrost’s increased water treatment capacity had been a major factor in improving gill health, but it did not remove all risks.

However, since the final quarter of last year the company has reported new capabilities for the “efficient and gentle” treatment of gill health and sea lice, helped by two year-round farming service vessels.

The company’s “large smolt” strategy – allowing smolts more time to grow before releasing them into sea cages – is expected to help address biological problems. Reducing the time at sea to around 12 months is expected to lead to reduced risk exposure and lower mortality rates, shareholders heard.

Bakkafrost’s stated priority for growth in Scotland over the next five years is to stabilise and ensure profitability, achieve best practice husbandry and strategic investment, growth through larger smolt and increased capacity and site development.

The two directors said Bakkafrost Scotland has a large scope for growth and for higher turnover by using larger smolt, along with further site development.

The overall strategic objective for Scotland, they added, is to build a healthy business around higher average harvest weights, better survival rates and a shorter cycle accompanied by production growth, higher prices achieved in the market and lower costs.

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