Former Nofima director Synnøve Helland is one of Pure Salmon Kaldnes' headline recruits. Photo: Pure Salmon Kaldnes.

Pure Salmon Kaldnes hires 35 staff in just three months

On-land fish farm builder Pure Salmon Kaldnes has hired 35 new employees in just three months as it gears up to deliver recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facilities for owner 8F Asset Management’s Pure Salmon project.

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The new personnel include former Nofima director Synnøve Helland and Pharmaq technical manager Yngve Lystad.

Pure Salmon Kaldnes business services director, Per Håkon Stenhaug, said some observers were sceptical when the Norway-based company announced last August that the company intended to double its workforce of 60 within two to three years.

Per Håkon Stenhaug: Good retention and recruitment. Photo: Pure Salmon Kaldnes.

120 by 2023

“In fact, we are one and a half years ahead of schedule. Since December last year, we have employed as many as 35 new employees, and throughout the coming year we need to recruit another 30. Thus, we will be close to 120 employees when we enter 2023,” said Stenhaug in a press release.

“Also, we have managed to retain almost every single one of all the great employees who have been with us since the acquisition. In that sense, we have managed to scale a great team that was already very strong from the beginning.”

Global ambition

Pure Salmon Kaldnes was formed last year when the aquaculture division of Sandefjord-based company Krüger Kaldnes was acquired by Singapore-based 8F, which will use the company to build a series of 10,000- and 20,000-tonne-capacity RAS salmon farms close to centres of population around the globe. It has an eventual target of 260,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon per year.

Pure Salmon Kaldnes, which as Krüger Kaldnes had considerable experience as a supplier of RAS smolt facilities, will continue to supply other customers as well as Pure Salmon.

Pure Salmon speeds up

It’s been a slow start for Pure Salmon, which had originally intended to have a RAS facility up and running in Japan by now, but it is gathering momentum. Pure Salmon’s first two RAS farms will be in Japan and in Tazewell County, Virginia in the United States, with work expected to start on both soon. Both will have an annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes.

Work on another 10,000-tonne farm in Brunei is expected to start in the middle of the year, and work on a farm of the same size should start in Boulogne, France, at around the same time.

Pure Salmon also plans a 20,000-tonne facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Work on that plant may also begin this year.

Pure Salmon also plans five 20,000-tonne facilities in China, and one of the same size in the land-locked southern African state of Lesotho.

However, the only fish Pure Salmon has produced so far have been from Pure Salmon Poland, a small RAS facility it shared with Israeli RAS expert AquaMaof, which was Pure Salmon’s chosen supplier until 8F bought the Krüger Kaldnes aquaculture division.

Pure Salmon’s Japan, Virginia and France facilities are being financed from the 8F Aquaculture Fund I LP fund that closed, together with its parallel fund 8F Aquaculture Fund I (Ireland), with capital commitments of US $358 million.

“Realistically your’e looking at the first eggs in at the end of 2023 or early 2024, in the US and Japan,” 8F co-founder and chief executive Karim Ghannam told Fish Farming Expert magazine last year.

545 applications

Stenhaug said Pure Salmon Kaldnes had 545 applicants for its jobs.

“We spent a lot of time and energy communicating to prospects in other industries that aquaculture is the industry of the future, and I am happy to reveal that 65% of our new employees come from other industries. We have earned the trust of many highly competent new employees, and today I feel that we have already won the first battle in the war for top talent.

“We will build facilities in all parts of the world, and we believe this is an important reason why we have gained that much interest from both native and foreign applicants with such high competence. In addition, I think our strong focus on sustainability and fish welfare probably has contributed to the high interest alongside the company’s continuous focus on research and innovation.”

Head of quality

Synnøve Helland, from Norwegian food research institute Nofima, has joined Pure Salmon Kaldnes as head of quality and health and safety.

Helland holds a PhD in physiology and has worked at Nofima for over 19 years both as a researcher and as head of the Sunndal aquaculture research station for the past six years.

“Nofima has been a great place to work, and even though I have lived in Oslo and commuted to Sunndal (more than 450 km to the north) for over three years, it has been out of the question to change my job until an opportunity arose in a company I really wanted to work for. And it did now.

“Pure Salmon Kaldnes is a very exciting company where the management team embraces a vision that complies well to my personal values such as sustainability, environment and, not least, the continuous development and retention of human capital which is the most important value of knowledge-based companies like this.”

Yngve Lystad: "This will be a very exciting journey."

International opportunities

Yngve Lystad leaves vaccine and therapeutics producer Pharmaq after 21 years and will head Pure Salmon Kaldnes’ new aftersales department from April 1.

“I want to develop myself within management and leadership, and Pure Salmon Kaldnes suited me very well as it is a company scaling up with strong growth ambitions,” said Lystad. “In addition, it is no secret that the international opportunities were important. I get highly motivated by working with new cultures and people. I simply believe this will be a very exciting journey.”