“We’re a Norwegian company, but we have no assets in Norway. And we’ll probably never have assets in Norway,” says Johan E. Andreassen, Atlantic Sapphire’s Miami-based chairman.
The former lumpfish fisherman and grower sets the tone: he’s sure his salmon future is on land, not at sea. Until now, the eight-year-old company has produced its salmon in Denmark through subsidiary, Langsrand Laks.
“We’re building the installation in Denmark. It’ll stay at 3,000 tonnes, but it’ll be an important piece in developing knowledge for us,” Andreassen said.
“We want to produce salmon out in the market. In the medium-term, we want to be in The States,” he added.
For those who don’t know him by reading SalmonBusiness, he offers a quick bio tidbit: “I built up Villa Organic, back in the days. We had 30 concessions,” he said. Villa was sold and a goodly amount of the proceeds were put to work on land-based aquaculture — in the U.S., generally. In Miami, specifically.
“We call it Bluehouse. Blue is the new green. We want to build a land-based facility in Miami that will produce 90,000 tonnes of salmon. We want to produce salmon as far south in the U.S. as possible. It isn’t long before you’re in the Florida Keys,” he said, before launching into the logic of that.
“The USA is the world’s largest market for salmon. There’s faster consumer growth per capita than the average (market), much faster actually, and there’s low per-capital consumption. Ninety-five percent of farmed salmon is imported from abroad. The USA-market is expected to double over the next 10 years. We share that understanding with Marine Harvest. And we want 10 percent of that market.”
Andreassen sees a combination of open-net and land-based facilities in salmon’s future. “In some areas, there’ll be a lot of pens, while in other areas there’ll be more land-based.”
His concerns and his business model revolve around the problem of air freight. “It’s expensive, and it doesn’t offer a good environmental footprint.”
At the same time, he’s open about his company’s battles, including those with sulphite poisoning in Denmark. “Earlier at Langsand Laks, we had 100-percent of our eggs in one basket. This (production operation) will now be spread across many tanks. When we get to 90,000 t, we want our eggs to be in 65 different baskets.”
“We’re focusing on being leaders on cost in the American market. In the USA, open-net aquaculture is controversial. As you probably know, the State of Washington has just laid down its ban on net-pen aquaculture.”
Meanwhile, Atlantic Sapphire is selling salmon on Amazon and Blue Apron.
“Online retailers like Amazon often demand a short response time. We’re well-positioned for that.”
Internet giant Amazon owns Whole Foods, a customer Andreassen knows from the days when his Villa Organic was the supermarket’s supplier.