Faroese farmer focuses on sustainability
INVESTMENT, sustainability and ever increasing efficiency – these are among the priorities spelt out by Bakkafrost chairman Runi M. Hansen as the Faroese salmon farming company prepares to meet growing future global demand for fish protein.
Bakkafrost, he said, has been on an exciting journey for the past couple of years, with a high focus on improving procedures and facilities to create more value in a sustainable manner, and investment in farming sites, ships, factories and smolt facilities leading the charge.
Presenting his annual report to shareholders, Hansen said: ‘The aim is moving Bakkafrost into a position to be much more capable to meet future opportunities and meet growing global demand for protein, with healthy and efficiently produced salmon products, and at the same time create value for our company, shareholders and society.
‘An important occasion in this direction was the publication of Bakkafrost’s first sustainability report last year, which shows our commitment to keep putting a sustainable and responsible approach to our salmon farming operation at the top of our agenda. That journey continued in 2018.
‘Having agreed with the Faroese government that Bakkafrost would take over the responsibility for the country’s broodstock programme, Bakkafrost has integrated the organisation into Bakkafrost.’
He said everyone in the company was very excited about the prospect of adding broodstock into an already long value chain.
In the updated investment programme, announced last summer, Bakkafrost plans to build a new state of the art facility for its broodstock operation which, he argued, should be viewed as a long term investment that will create value for the business.
Another move involves restructuring some of the farming activities, leading to a more complete structure at Suðuroy, situated in the southernmost part of the Faroe Islands.
‘Bakkafrost now has four farming sites in Suðuroy, with the last farming site starting production in 2019,’ he explained. It was also an area with potential for further growth.
Hansen said the other priority would be a focus on business sustainability.
‘In 2018, we decided to invest in the first biogas plant in the Faroe Islands. The biogas investment will make our business more sustainable as waste from our increasing smolt production on land will produce energy and, at the same time, produce good fertiliser for local farmers.
‘We care about the environment, which is the precondition for a healthy operation in the long run. Preserving and respecting our heritage, operating in a society so dependent on nature – it is essential that the balance with nature is right and sustainable.’
Three years ago, Bakkafrost moved to significantly increase its smolt production by building a new hatchery at another island location called Strond.
‘This facility will be finished this year,’ he said. ‘In August 2018, we announced expansions on two existing hatcheries and the building of one new hatchery, resulting in a significant lift in our production capacity of smolt.’
The chairman concluded: ‘Our investments will play a significant role in Bakkafrost’s future business model and give opportunities for sustainable production growth, reduced biological risk and create value for our customers and shareholders.’
In its trading update for the first quarter of 2019 (January to March inclusive), Bakkafrost announced total harvest volumes of 13,700 tonnes, up from 12,200 tonnes in Q1 2018. The full Q1 report and accounts will be published on May 6.
Picture: Bakkafrost chairman Runi M. Hansen