Catch of the Day

Jan Erik talks about his work and the increased interested in organic salmon

What have you been working on lately?

These last weeks I have focused most of my attention on organic salmon. Kontali has monitored organic aquaculture for decades, but over the last 2 years we have observed a rising interest in starting or converting to organic aquaculture with salmon as the main species. I have just given a presentation to Cargill, who produce among other, a seaweed-based additive for commercial salmon feed which qualifies the fish for marketing as organic, about the current status in the market.   

Why is organic salmon now a hot topic? 

The reason can be found through the whole value chain. . On one side we see an increased focus among consumers regarding sustainability, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic with increased home dining causing more awareness about consumption.  From the producer’s side, high prices and margins for conventional farmed salmon since 2016 have previously limited the interest in organic salmon, but now interest from large scale retailer and consumer has increased focus on sustainability among aquaculture producers. We now see new players entering organic salmon production and others considering converting from conventional salmon to organic. In addition, the nutrition side of the sector and processors are also showing interest for organic salmon.

What else is happening in the organic salmon sector?

Towards the end of March 2021, the European Commission launched an action plan for making aquaculture production even more sustainable. Included in this plan was increasing the production and consumption of organic agriculture and aquaculture.  

The potential for increasing organic salmon production in Europe is present, especially for Norway and the UK, by transitioning from conventional farming to organic. In Ireland the situation is more complex due to lot of red tape in the re-licencing process. Hopefully, the EU action plan will be a driver for Ireland to give priority to organic salmon farming as part of the overall spatial planning process.