Marine Harvest shocked the market when the company rebranded under the name, Mowi, today. But what’s in a name?
Established in 1965, Unilever’s new aquaculture enterprise, a full-time research and development project in trout (and later salmon) farming in the West Scottish village of Lochailort was given the name “Marine Harvest”.
In Tuesday’s press release, Marine Harvest didn’t announce why they choose Mowi as a new company and brand name to reflect “the entrepreneurial spirit that has developed the company over the last 50 years”.
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The reason was Thor Mowinckel.
Mowinckel, from a family of North German merchants, was the driving force behind the MOWI farming company, based on his last name, in the late 1960s. With assistance from a Bergen aquarium and funding from Norsk Hydro, Mowinckel established modern salmon farming in a closed cage at Flogøy on Sotra, 20kms from Bergen.
MOWI was also the name of the breeding stock that the company built on. Salmon taken from local rivers in county of Hordaland, fish known for their size and strength
Eventually, Hydro injected more money into MOWI, and it became Hydro Seafood. The company’s harvesting volumes went on to dominate the first half of Norway’s farming history. When the company was divested and sold, for NOK 2 billion (EUR 209.2 million) in 2000, annual production was at 70,000 tonnes of salmon. It was crowned with the title of “world’s largest fish farmer”.
Hydro Seafood’s buyer was Marine Harvest, which was long sold by Unilever, and now owned by Dutch feed giants, Nutreco. In 2006, shipowner John Fredriksen brought the company back to its homeland in Norway, and merged it with Pan Fish and Fjord Seafood. The 400,000 tonnage beast was named Marine Harvest.
Twelve years later, the Marine Harvest Board has decided to link its rebranding strategy with an entrepreneur name. With the announcement of a change of course and price changes, Mowi will follow the salmon deeper into the market.