Taking salmon to the next level
High-end Danish salmon processor Vega Salmon AS is on a mission to deliver delicious and natural seafood from the Nordic waters to consumers across the world
Viewing itself as a partner for business, people and the planet, Vega Salmon AS is a new generation salmon processor that combines the best from tradition with modern technology to deliver the best quality products that the industry can offer. Focused on the production of salmon, which contributes to 88 per cent of the business, with trout and others taking the remaining ten per cent and two per cent respectively, the company achieved a turnover of 136 million euros in 2015 thanks to demand in Europe (55 per cent), the US (40 per cent) and the rest of the world (five per cent).
“Vega Salmon was established in 2004, when the fish processing industry was mostly competing on price, and cost-cutting was the name of the game. Quality, food safety and sustainability were buzzwords, which seldom made it to the cooling disks as price concerns dominated. We quickly realised that the game needed to change. Consumers were becoming more demanding about quality and food safety and the world needed a gentler way to produce food. So, we set out to find a way to deliver better quality in a sustainable way while maintaining competitive cost levels,” begins Lone Hollensen, Marketing Manager at Vega Salmon AS.
“The answer was to combine the latest technology with lean production principles. We designed a unique, new processing facility in Handewitt, Germany, which was to become one of the most cutting edge fish processing factories in the world. Once the factory was ready, we began to take Vega Salmon to the next level,” she adds.
Based in Handewitt since 2012, the company has the capacity to process more than 40,000 tonnes of raw material per year at its 12,000 square metre factory, which is one of the most advanced facilities when it comes to technology, food safety, quality surveillance and production efficiency in proportion to its size. This naturally leads to product consistency from customers seeking great tasting, high quality seafood from a company that meets top level certifications and specifications that includes IFS, MSC, ASC, OU Kosher and Purity.
Food safety standards
Indeed, throughout the value chain, Vega Salmon conducts a zero-tolerance policy in terms of quality, food safety and sustainability as it closely collaborates with its suppliers, the farms and harvest stations to enhance standards and get even closer to nature. Discussing this commitment, Lone states: “Listeria is a challenge to all salmon manufacturers. We have introduced an innovative anti-listeria approach that replaces the traditional use of preservatives and stabilisers with radical preventive measures. These include our new factory, which is designed for the highest level of hygiene, an extreme focus on daily cleaning and cleaning inspection and an intensive testing programme for listeria in raw material, products and the environment. Due to our programme we can offer a very high level of food safety. In fact, in 2016 we sent 3000 samples of our main product, smoked Norwegian salmon, for testing at an external lab – each one of them were negative.”
To ensure customers receive fresh products, Vega Salmon operates in a swift and efficient manner, with fresh fish harvested in the ocean and delivered to its factory as soon as two to three days after. From here, on day four, the fresh fish is processed efficiently in ten to 12 hours before it is then prepared to be shipped the same evening. By day five, customers anywhere in the world can then enjoy tasty salmon that is not only incredibly fresh, but also of the best possible quality.
Once processed, these high quality products are delivered to retailers, wholesalers, food service and food industry suppliers across the globe under private label brands and its own Vega brands. This includes two new fish concepts, Purity, a premium brand of Vega specified salmon, and New Nordic, conventional specified salmon that will also be under the premium brand bracket; there is also Vega Basic and private label products. Described as one of nature’s diamonds, Purity Salmon is raised by two impassioned and dedicated northern Norwegian farmers that care for the environment and constantly follow the impact of their salmon farming in Astafjord; it is absolutely premium in every aspect, from the Norwegian Fjords to serving. New Nordic, meanwhile, is named after the New Nordic area, which has a reputation for craftsmanship, 61sustainability, high quality, healthy and delicious salmon that is hand salted and smoked on beech wood.
Exporting 90 per cent of its products, Vega Salmon has seen a positive customer response for Purity in existing markets such as Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Israel as well as the growing Australian market. Moving forward, the company’s strategic initiatives from 2017 to 2020 include winning high value customers through Purity as well as capturing new customers in core focus markets such as Japan, Australia and the US. Additionally, Vega Salmon will enhance its premium partner value proposition and strengthen supply chain operations with the goal of improving yield and efficiency. Much like the fish it is named after, the company is certain to continue its epic upstream journey with much success.