Smolts are due to be stocked in Andfjord Salmon's first pool at its site at Kvalnes, Andøya, this month. The pool has the capacity to produce 1,000 gutted weight tonnes of salmon. Photo: Andfjord Salmon.

Portuguese retail giant buys 10.1% stake in on-land salmon farmer

Jerónimo Martins, a Portugal-based international food industry group, has agreed to invest NOK 173.9 million (£14.4m) in Norwegian on-land fish farmer Andfjord Salmon through a directed private placement of new shares.

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The investment will give Jerónimo Martins a 10.1% share in Andfjord Salmon, which will stock its first smolts this month and plans to eventually produce 69,000 gutted weight tonnes of salmon a year at three sites on the island of Andøya.

Andfjord is constructing large flow-through tanks built into the bedrock below sea level, an innovation which it says dramatically reduces the power required to pump seawater into the tanks from a depth of 25-30 metres in summer and from 160 metres in winter, which will ensure a stable temperature of 7 to 12 degrees all year round. Andfjord has calculated an energy cost of around NOK 1 per kilo of fish produced.

As with other on-land salmon farms, Andfjord will also be able to collect sludge for reuse as fertiliser, and should have no problems with sea lice, algae, predators, or wild fish interactions.

Pedro Soares dos Santos: Impressed with Andfjord's innovative approach. Photo: Jerónimo Martins Group.

Less impact

“Andfjord Salmon’s project is focused on using efficient technology to produce salmon - a strategic seafood product - with less impact on natural resources, therefore contributing to conserve and sustainably use the ocean, the sea and marine resources,” Pedro Soares dos Santos, Jerónimo Martins’ chairman and chief executive, said in a market announcement.

“In a challenging backdrop of both high pressure on the ocean stocks and food security, we believe that investing in this innovative and sustainable production will also work for us as a learning curve accelerator in what regards best practices in aquaculture projects.”

Extensive competence

Andfjord chief executive Martin Rasmussen said: “We are delighted to attract such a major industrial investor to Andfjord Salmon. We consider it an advantage to have an owner that possesses extensive competence about international food industry sales, marketing, logistics and distribution. Hopefully we can tap into this know-how when we are ready to bring our salmon to the market.”

At the end of last year Jerónimo Martins Group had 4,908 stores and 123,458 employees in Portugal, Poland and Colombia. The Polish food store chain Biedronka is the Jerónimo Martins Group’s largest business. In Portugal, Pingo Doce is the supermarket segment leader while Recheio leads the cash and carry market. In Colombia, Jerónimo Martins Group owns the Ara chain of stores.

Marine farms

The group also develops an agribusiness operation, Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar, to secure a sustainable supply of strategic products, ensuring food safety and availability, and it is this business that is buying into Andfjord Salmon. Jerónimo Martins Agro-Alimentar’s aquaculture business area operates three marine fish farms - two in Portugal and one in Morocco. In 2021, it had a total production of 1,400 tonnes of sea bass and sea bream.