Speaking at the launch of the brand at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, chief executive Alf-Helge Aarskog said the company would invest €35 million in the brand over the next two years and aimed to be making €1 billion in branded turnover by 2025.
Mowi has always been the name of Marine Harvest’s broodstock but the Mowi-branded salmon will have higher omega-3 content, a redder colour and softer marbling, appealing to the millennial shoppers concerned about health and sustainability. The fish will be from specially selected broodstock, get special feed and come from special Mowi farms.
Heritage and transparency
Aarskog said the brand name would capitalise on the company’s 50-year heritage and allow Marine Harvest to offer the transparency that consumers demand and that having control of every aspect of the production process allowed.
“Can you launch a global brand without changing the name of the company? We have decided to go all-in,” he told fund managers attending the meeting.
“The future of salmon is Mowi. You can pronounce it just the way you want. This name will work and it is short. That is another reason for choosing it.”
- The Mowi brand will be launched in two un-named European locations in the first half of 2019.
- From 2020 there will be a continued roll-out in Europe, North America and Asia.
- The range will include organic salmon, but not all the company’s organic salmon will be Mowi-branded salmon.
- The branding strategy is based on health benefits, transparency and food enjoyment.
- Mowi salmon is certified to have higher levels of Omega-3.
- Marine Harvest’s name change to Mowi will take effect from January 1, subject to shareholder approval.
“Maybe we are not making history today but we are not far from it,” claimed the chief executive, who added that the initiative would allow the company to start connecting with the consumer in a way that salmon farmers haven’t done before.
Ola Brattvoll, chief operating officer of Marine Harvest’s sales and marketing segment, said the firm was not intending to replace its private label business with Mowi, but that the product line would enable the company to go into the market achieving a higher price.
He said Mowi could answer questions put by consumers in a way that private label products couldn’t do. Market research had identified a demand from customers for more information about their food, something Mowi’s marketing would provide. “There are unmet needs out there and salmon is a high-involvement protein,” said Brattvoll.
Packs will come with QR codes which can be scanned using a mobile phone to provide a variety of information about the product, and the fish will be promoted using social media, mobiles and the internet, as well as traditional methods. Promotion will be a big part of the €35m expenditure.
Marine Harvest brand director Andreas Johler pointed out that brands without such a strategy were often re-active to inaccurate information about them, whereas having a good story to tell would allow the company to be pro-active.
He said the company also planned a “cutting-edge in-store experience” which would include branded refrigerators to end “confusion” in the fish aisle.
In a question and answer session at the end of the presentation, Brattvoll said Marine Harvest had consulted with existing private label customers in preparation for the brand launch.
“Our business is private label and we cannot jeopardise that,” he said.
“We will not change the quality of what we supply to our partners. We will continue to work with them. The Mowi brand is a special brand of a different quality than we have already, but that is not taking down [the quality] of our existing volume, it is adding another product that will fulfil a different role, and will actually promote the products we are supplying today (by encouraging people to eat more salmon).
An edge over feed producers
Asked if Marine Harvest had the skills to produce a superior feed to that of manufacturers who had been doing it much longer than the company, Aarskog said: “The feed industry has always focused on one thing, producing feed. They have never looked at the consumer. We actually produce feed for the end product, not the farmers.
“We have increased our competence in feed. We have an edge over the feed producers today.”
He continued: “There is a lot more to be done that has never been done before. What about the taste? We know that if you use more fish oil in the feed it changes its taste characteristics.”
All the Mowi fish will be Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified. This rules out Scottish farms for the time being, as MH Scotland’s use of freshwater lochs to grow smolts has prevented any of its sites being eligible for ASC approval. However, the company is confident that will change soon under a review of ASC rules.