Chief executive Christian Riber hailed the initial harvest as a “huge milestone” for the Trondheim-based company, following an intensive four-year effort to start production.
Norcod expects to produce more than 5,000 tonnes of cod by continuous harvesting between now and February, according to Riber.
“We have had to start harvesting the fish a bit earlier than planned due to great biological performance. The fish are in fantastic condition and initial deliveries earlier this month have yielded highly positive customer feedback,” he said.
“The majority of the harvest volumes have been sold well above budgeted levels. As customers come to further appreciate Norcod and its many advantages it is expected that this price will increase. The market is looking very promising for the coming months,” he added.
The initial harvest marks a significant leap towards Norcod’s ambition to become the world’s first producer of high-quality farmed cod on an industrial scale from its three farm sites in mid-Norway.
These fish were harvested from the first batch of juvenile cod that was transferred from growth tanks into the sea in January 2020.
The next batch of 2.4 million fish was transferred to the sea earlier this summer and is set to be harvested in the third quarter of 2022, with the goal of increasing annual production to 9,000 tonnes in 2022 and 25,000 tonnes by 2025.
A further batch of juveniles is scheduled to go into the sea phase in spring 2022 after they start their growth phase in December this year.
“This schedule puts us on track to increase production significantly over the next few years. Both the high quality and volume of fish produced so far gives us confidence that we can exceed our sales ambition by meeting market demand,” Riber said.
Norcod has secured buyers in advance for the fish as part of its marketing strategy to provide customers with stable year-round deliveries, compared with seasonal wild cod, through its exclusive marketing company Sirena Group.
“It’s only the second time since I started working here that I experience a product where customers are calling back, giving praise and actually sign up on a waiting list for next delivery,” said Magnus Gehlin from Fisk Idag, a leading seafood distributor in Sweden.
Jesper Hansen from Danish seafood customer Fiskerikajen said: “We buy the vast majority of our cod from low-impact fisheries. In the summer, it is sometimes difficult to get enough cod from sustainable fisheries. Therefore, we are pleased that we can now launch Norcod and are really excited about the great quality of this fish.”
Norcod’s produced cod is differentiated in price as the fish have an 8 percent higher yield than wild-caught cod and provide a thicker, meatier fillet, according to Riber.
Whole fish are initially being marketed in Spain, Scandinavia and the UK, with value-added cod fillets destined for France, Germany and the US.