The financial crisis in 2008 was relieved by the oil crisis in 2014 and in 2020, COVID-19 hit us with full force. The aquaculture industry has been supportive, more and more people are opening their eyes to the power and opportunity inherent in the industry. At the same time, the industry itself has taken into care that it is in fact one of the most important growth industries in the country. We are no longer “small” businesses with turnover from a few million, we are a significant food industry that is helping to build the country. And we are approaching more and more in the lead.
When the oil crisis was a fact, and the initial panic had settled, the oil service industry saw its cut to shift focus towards aquaculture. Some dived deep into the aquaculture industry – what were the challenges and needs. Others took simpler paths – and would only offload their products and services in another market. It began with the national suppliers, but eventually, international companies also cast their eyes on Norway, and aquaculture. Suddenly aquaculture was hot. It was the future. It could be all over the place. And there was money in the industry. In a meeting with some Chinese ex-oil people, I asked them; “why aquaculture?” Their response was simple; “Next to oil, there was no other industry that had similar margins.” They were all going in.
The focus on the aquaculture industry has never been greater and more important than now. The flood of serious and rogue people and companies has put its focus on the industry. It’s something we can’t avoid. It provides development opportunities. But at the same time, it has never been more important than now to separate the chaff from the wheat.
Weekly we hear about companies, services, products that can solve all the challenges in the industry. Politicians and management are approached by business leaders who are concerned about their products and solutions, and in many cases that “just you change a little bit on a few rules” and you will solve the particular challenge – or the supplier company’s earning potential….. Common to much is that there is no quick fix for several of the “heavier” issues. Work must be done systematically and purposefully over time. But at the same time, it is important to think broadly, get as many people as possible to address the industry’s challenges, create solutions or create a basis for solutions. And then we will probably have to endure the emerge of some “free riders” and “charlatans”. Usually a bit inflated.
It has been interesting to follow SalmonBusiness’ reports on CageEye. There is much one can question, and much one can laugh off, but the company brings in a whole new thinking in the aquaculture industry. A new thinking on how to create and finance business development. And it crashes almost completely with the foundations of the Norwegian aquaculture industry. The industry is built stone by stone, with hard work, high risk, cunning and a courage. There is a significant difference in building some stone for stone, and inflating it. Getting Microsoft, Google etc. to cast their eyes on aquaculture may be important for our development, but then also they must be able to separate the bran from the wheat. For a country and for a business, long-termism is important. One must be able to look past the not so serious ones and go for those who actually want and know something, and who are also here tomorrow.
At the moment, the world is full of money. Many want to get into aquaculture. It’s important to be open. Allow chances to be taken. But over time, no one profits from the industry’s confidence being put into play. Fortunately, the aquaculture operators themselves see this. The question is whether the environment is as awake.