Fresh salmon sensation with international impact:
The SALMA salmon success story
A major favourite of Norwegian consumers, SALMA salmon is displayed in its own coolers at a temperature of no higher than 4°C. This fish is guaranteed to have been vacuum-packed within four hours of being taken from the sea. Its fresh, pink salmon colour is an integral part of its ingenious design.
The quality of SALMA salmon is so good, it can be eaten raw. Celebrated by sushi lovers and by master chefs around the world, this iconic product is now making its way onto the international consumer market.
But first, a look back at the history of this salmon sensation...
Dreams of fresh salmon
In 1963 research geneticist Harald Skjervold realised his dream of selectively breeding salmon, laying the foundation for today’s salmon-farming industry. By the 1980s salmon had become Norway’s largest production species in terms of sheer numbers.
The fascination with salmon was conveyed from father to son. The next Skjervold generation, namely Per Olav, dedicated much of his early research career to advancing the commercialisation of truly fresh salmon – in contrast to the products up to two weeks old that used to fill seafood counters.
In 2002 Per Olav Skjervold earned his doctorate at the Agricultural University of Norway, now the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB). The prospect of processing fish before the onset of rigor mortis was a key element of his thesis, which also addressed stress and temperatures.
But as this story proves, the power of creative thinking lies in collaboration. Dr Skjervold assembled a team consisting of his co-researcher Svein Olav Fjæra, Olav Svensen (who owned the processing company Bremnes Seashore) and Jan Ove Molandstø (head of processing activities at Bremnes Seashore).
No bones about it
Through trial and error, the brainstorming foursome found that filleting the fish before rigor mortis set in would slice three days off the time from sea pen to supper. Furthermore, avoiding stress on the fish delayed the onset of rigor mortis after slaughter.
But the most critical factor in salmon shelf life turned out to be temperature. This revelation led to the truly big breakthrough: cooling down the live fish would extend freshness even more while raising product quality.
Now just one challenge remained – figuring out how to remove all the bones from a very fresh fish. Based on salmon anatomy, the team devised new fillet cuts completely free of skin and bone. Today’s consumers in Norway, and increasingly those abroad, know these cuts as SALMA belly loin and SALMA back loin.
The SALMA brand emerges
At the turn of the 21st century, a key player entered the picture: Norway’s largest food corporation TINE. Bremnes Seashore and TINE started up a joint enterprise called Salmon Brands, an innovative processing company that continues to conduct long-term marine research, product development and brand-building. The SALMA brand was the company’s first brainchild.
TINE, with its heavyweight expertise in refrigerated foods, proceeded to improve hygienic procedures, convert production, and launch the entire concept’s branding and design. SALMA’s unique packaging, designed by Bjørn Rybakken and undoubtedly a prime factor in the brand’s success, is both highly functional and serves to distinguish SALMA from the other goods on display.
Success at home and abroad
Today, products from Bremnes Seashore are winning international awards. Discerning top chefs around the world have come to rely on the SALMA brand. And although the Norwegian market is still SALMA’s most important one, the product is gaining loyal supporters in other European countries as well.
In 2009, new state-of-the-art production facilities were completed at Bremnes, near Bergen, boasting the highest proportion of skilled personnel of any company in Norway’s fish processing industry. And competence is a valuable commodity when crafting a modern food industry from what once was essentially a production line for raw ingredients.
SALMA’s success is also a lesson in how a traditional raw ingredient producer has made processing profitable in high-cost Norway. The vital elements have been a focus on quality, an understanding of the need for research, and a willingness to cooperate.
Research pays off
Per Olav Skjervold, the man who sparked the SALMA magic through his research, has worked ever since in that interface between research and commerce. He is currently Director of the Research Council’s Department for Competence-building. “Companies that conduct research have a greater chance of succeeding,” he asserts. He looks forward to using his R&D experience to benefit more Norwegian industry players in the years ahead.
“The success of SALMA salmon is a perfect illustration of the value of research,” agrees Lars Espen Aukrust, Executive Director of the Division for Innovation. “It is very constructive for a company to carry out a research project – and it’s not only about competitiveness and economic value creation. Systematic work on research and development builds up a company’s network and its ability to incorporate new knowledge. It also strengthens relationships with customers and suppliers, and is a source of satisfaction and pride among employees, concludes Aukrust.”
|SALMA and Salmon Brands|
Salmon Brands is a company owned by TINE (51%) and Bremnes Seashore (49%). The company’s first research-based brand was SALMA. Order-based production simplifies logistics while getting the product more quickly to retail. Often, a salmon’s journey from its sea pen to the retail display counter takes less than a day.
TINE, the largest player on the Norwegian food market, possesses extensive experience and top-notch proficiency in food processing. The company has worked with brand-building for a number of years. TINE also has specialised expertise in logistics as well as hygiene, an area that has proven pivotal in the development of SALMA products.
Bremnes Seashore has 183 employees, producing 25,000 tonnes of salmon annually with 20 aquaculture licences along the coast of Hordaland and Rogaland counties. Bremnes Seashore is a pioneering company known for important innovations in the industry.
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