Farming ‘normal’ for now, says Grieg

Grieg CEO Andreas Kvame - the company is withstanding the coronavirus outbreak so far

BERGEN based Grieg Seafood said yesterday that its salmon farming operations were ‘running as normal’ during the coronavirus outbreak.

The salmon was being harvested according to plan, said the company, adding that it would ‘work relentlessly to keep our harvesting schedule also in the coming time’.

Grieg, which farms in Norway, Scotland and Canada, said it still expected to harvest 16,800 gutted weight tonnes in Q1 as forecast, and the company’s volume target of 100,000 tonnes for 2020 remained in place.

‘The demand for salmon is there in the markets, with significant decreased demand from hotel, restaurants and catering (horeca) and increased demand from retail.’

The group conceded, though, that the medium and long term implications of the coronavirus pandemic remained uncertain.

For now, the flow of goods between countries on trucks remained relatively good, with no border restrictions on food items, including salmon.

But airfreight was a challenge and the industry was working hard to find alternative transportation solutions.

‘With farming operations located in close proximity to both the European and the US market, Grieg Seafood’s dependence on cross-Atlantic distribution is limited,’ said the company.

Norway recognised that salmon farming was a ‘critical public function’, and upholding production was a government priority, said Grieg.

‘The company is maintaining a good dialogue with the authorities in Norway, the UK and Canada through industry organisations, discussing possible arrangements to safeguard salmon farming operations in various scenarios, such as flexibility on maximum allowed biomass and fallow periods.’

Grieg said it had implemented measures at its farms to limit contamination, with crises management teams in its head office and in each region.

Because of Covid-19, the company has postponed its Capital Markets Day, planned for June 10. But it reassured investors that its finances were in good health, with cash and credit facilities of NOK 955 million and an equity ratio of 46 per cent.