Best salmon market ever helps aquaculture company run close to full spot exposure

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Norwegian aquaculture company Måsøval is now producing salmon for Swiss super-premium player Balik.

“This is the first year we are represented with our own stand. It is exciting to work directly in the market, not just with production,” Lars Måsøval, the chairman of the company, said.

SalmonBusiness met the Måsøval boss on the opening day of the big seafood fair in Barcelona.

“Måsøval has become something of a talking point in the stock market since you have such a high spot exposure. Is that right?”

“Only a few individual companies are on contract with some customers. We are quite highly exposed to the spot market, yes,” Måsøval confirmed.

Low contract rate
With spot prices up to 130 kroner (€13.3) per kilo, he does not hide that he is satisfied with it.

“Yes, it is not possible to say anything other than that,” he said smiling.

“Is this coincidental or part of a long-term sales strategy?”

“We only have very few customers on fixed contracts in Måsøval. Now, I’m not going to say that it’s a fixed strategy, but so far we’re doing it,” Måsøval stated.

All exports of Måsøval fish go through the relatively newly purchased export company Pure Norwegian Seafood on Averøy.

“Yes, now it does. They export all the fish. We will increase more. We have a lot going on in Måsøval at the moment. Now they (Pure Norwegian Seafood – editor’s note) are opening an office in Ålesund and in addition employed some extra on Averøy,” Måsøval added.

17,000 tonnes
This means a sale of 17,000 tonnes of salmon annually. But Måsøval does not sell fish from its Icelandic facilities through this company.

“No, it is not yet clear what is happening there,” Måsøval said.

“By the way, we are launching a new brand now, called Pure Princess,” he added, pointing to a banner with the logo.

“We have developed our own standard together. We decide four months before we are to slaughter the fish, which cages we are to produce as a premium, and then we pay for our own diet. It’s a slightly different twist than we’ve had before,” Måsøval explained.

“Do you get a premium at a spot price?”

“Yes, we invest a little extra production costs that we have to recover in the market – and with a completely different margin than the other,” the company boss outlined.

Balik-laks. Photo: Aslak Berge

The Tsar family
The premium segment is led by Balik, which has been a customer of Pure Norwegian Seafood for several years.

“This is sold for 7,000-8,000 kroner (€791-€904) per kilo,” he said, showing off Balik’s easily recognizable packaging.

The exclusive salmon smokehouse Balik, located on a small mountain farm in the Swiss Alps, produces smoked salmon according to the recipe of the Russian tsarist family Romanov. On the customer list are both Buckingham Palace and the Saudi royal house.

Måsøval offers a smoked sashimi piece to SalmonBusiness’ dispatcher. And the taste is impeccable.

“This costs 500 kroner (€56.6), he said chuckling.