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The whole world wants salmon, and that is what it will get. Salmon, cod, fish cakes and coated products are all produced, caught and processed locally in Norway for the domestic market, but a growing quantity is also processed overseas. It is both sold locally and exported.
As well as increasing the turnover of a Norwegian company, this creates jobs in other countries. Last but not least, it gives even more people access to healthy, sustainable seafood. Read on to learn more about how Norwegian salmon is making a splash, starting with Spain.
Norwegian salmon is the preferred ingredient in Japanese sushi, including for Spanish consumers. Every single day, the 65 employees at the new Lerøy factor in Valencia produce almost 60,000 delicious pieces of sushi that are sold in Spain:
- There is a growing market for Asian and healthy cuisine in Spain, and we have specialised in ready meals like sushi, says Antonio Diaz, the Managing Director of Lerøy’s Spanish operations. He explains that sushi is increasingly popular in Spain and says that over six million trays of ready-to-eat seafood were produced here in 2019.
In 2019, the company extended its range to include gyoza, also known as Japanese dumplings. The new product, which there are high expectations for, is made using a new, automated – and highly efficient! – production line.
It isn’t just sushi lovers who are delighted that a foreign company has chosen to invest in the local area. Several employees at the new factory say that Lerøy’s investment in Valencia has been good for the local community by creating safe jobs.
Lerøy currently has four factories in Spain – in Barcelona, Madrid, and Alicante, as well as the latest addition in Valencia. And just as the company is important to the employees, the employees are important to the company – as they say themselves: even with lots of machines to help with the work, people still represent the heart of the factory.
- Our goal is that employees will want to work for Lerøy for many years. In order to achieve that, we must allow them to develop and enjoy their work. We are working hard to ingrain the core values of the company, so that everyone is conscious of what we mean by the terms honest, transparent, responsible and creative, says Diaz.
Smoked salmon and fresh pre-packed fish is flying off the shelves in grocery stores all over the world, and in 2019 just over 3,000 tonnes of fish left Lerøy’s factory in the fishing village of Urk in the Netherlands. That’s only going to increase further, according to Tjeerd Hoekstra, the CEO of Rodé Vis, the Lerøy subsidiary that runs its factories in the Netherlands:
- We have the potential to increase production, and in 2020 we expect to produce between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes. In the long term, we should be able to produce 15,000 tonnes here, which would double our production in the Netherlands.
He has been at Rodé Vis for over 25 years, and rather like Norwegians are said to be born with skis on their feet, people from Urk are born with scales on their bodies. Hoekstra is no exception:
- I’ve always had a passion for fish and fish production, and both my father and my grandfather spent many years in the industry. I started on the factory floor, so I know the whole production process really well. It also means I speak the same language as the factory workers, he says. He adds that his experience from the factory floor is useful for ensuring the quality of the products that leave the factories:
- I visit all of the factories several times a week to talk to the production teams, and my impression is that helps to generate a sense of pride and loyalty.
It’s not just the fact that Lerøy has five factories in the Netherlands that makes it a big player – the new factory is also much bigger than the current production volumes imply. It is streamlined to produce, as efficiently as possible, smoked salmon on one side, and fresh pre-packed seafood on the other side.
The new factory also incorporates the latest technology and energy-efficient solutions. For instance, the roof is covered in solar panels, and waste heat from the smokers is used to heat the water for washing the factory. All of this reflects Lerøy’s values of being both responsible and creative.
Note: All of the photos were taken before the Covid 19 pandemic, so they do not reflect the infection control measures that have since been introduced at Lerøy’s factories and other premises.