Hätälä: “Our newest flaming and hot-smoking lines are producing raw material up to 4000kg/hour”

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How does Finland’s leading salmon processor cope in the Christmas rush?

The largest fishing nation in the Baltic Sea region packs a punch when it comes to fish processing. Capitalising on salmon and trout is Hätälä Oy – which as been owned and managed by members of the same family for four generations.

The company’s roots starting out in a humble village market fish stall By 2025, the turnover should be EUR 170 million. PHOTO: Hätälä

“The story of our company began in 1938 when Juho Isohätälä began selling fish in the market square of Oulu, Finland. Family business values are highly important to Hätälä, which are reflected in our slogan: Fair Northern Fish,” explained Vice CEO Matti Isohätälä.

Same family working together
Isohätälä added that it were these family values that gave the central Finland-based company an edge.

“The fact that we are a family business is evident in our company culture, way of working and personnel policies. Everyone employed by this company works together as a team and strives for the highest quality. Advantages of being a family company include the depth of knowledge accumulated by generations of members of the same family working together, Hätälä’s strong brand identity and the fact that its owners are well known, at least within the company,” said Isohätälä.

SalmonBusiness has been talking to salmon processors and how they are tackling the busiest period of the year, Christmas. North of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland is also home to a very busy and famous white bearded man who can probably emphasise with the intensity of work that goes into the salmon-smoking festive rush.

Vice CEO Matti Isohätälä. PHOTO: Hätälä

Flamed
One of Hätälä Oy’s best-selling ranges are salmon fillets which have been flamed in an open fire, a skill, the company says, which has perfected over 80 years.

Hätälä`s main raw material is salmon from North Norway and Scandinavian fresh rainbow trout. Its central Oulu location is ideal since its main raw material, Norwegian salmon, is only 8-12 hours distance by trucks. “This guarantees that our products are the absolute freshest,” said Isohätälä.

What volumes are you expecting to process over the Xmas period, what’s the biggest challenge during this time?

“As we are the leading fish processing house in Finland, the high peak we see during Christmas is coming from flamed and hot- and cold smoked fish products. Production lines are working to supply high-demand from European and Finnish customers,” explained Isohätälä.

“Capacity is about triple as big normal quantities. Our newest flaming and hot-smoking lines are producing raw material up to 4000kg/hour. During Xmas we must control and follow-up that all lines are running well and deliveries going smoothly,” he added.

EUR 30 million
The CEO added that it is undergoing through a multimillion investment boost which has gone towards complete new lines for filleting, hot-smoking and flaming (that has been in use for one year). New packing lines for skin-packages, vacuum- and MAP- packs are also in the works.

Flamed salmon, an 80-year old technique. PHOTO: Hätälä

“Our production facilities in Oulu are going through an investment programme costing over 30 million of Euros. At the moment, about half of extensions are already in full production, which has increased production capacity and improved the freshness of our products even more. Nowadays, factory handles 18 000 metric tonnes of raw material annually.

“At this stage, we have total of 12,000m2 of production and storage space. The groundwork for the next phase of extension are already underway and the goal is to get this extension operational in 2021. We have in total of 32,000m2 construction permit here in Oulu,” explained Isohätälä.

Coming up next: Who are Hätälä Oy’s customers?