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Swiss Alpine Fish is producing Atlantic salmon in Lostallo in the Italian part of southern Switzerland. Photo: Swiss Alpine Fish
Swiss Alpine Fish is producing Atlantic salmon in Lostallo in the Italian part of southern Switzerland. Photo: Swiss Alpine Fish

When it comes to foodstuffs, Switzerland is famous for its cheese and Toblerones, but the land-locked country can now add Atlantic salmon to that list.

Swiss Alpine Fish AG has begun harvesting its first crop of ‘Swiss Lachs’ Atlantic salmon at its recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Lostallo in the Italian part of Grisons in southern Switzerland.

The company has a capacity to grow 600 tonnes of salmon per year (equivalent to 480 tonnes head-on gutted) – almost 5% of Swiss Atlantic salmon consumption. The fish are being harvested at 3.5kg HOG.

Sales and marketing director Ronald Herculeijns said: “We are very happy to achieve this milestone and to deliver freshest and very sustainable fish to the Swiss costumer.

“Every second month we fly in salmon eggs from Iceland. We started to hatch the first generation of Atlantic salmon two years ago. Per year we have six batches. After 24 months the salmon reach a harvest size.”

Switzerland’s largest retailer

Herculeijns said 80% of the company’s fish will be sold fresh, with the remaining 20% smoked in-house and sold online and to retailers and fish distributors.

“We sell fresh fish to Switzerland’s largest retailer, Coop and to the most premium food store Globus Delicatessa,” said the sales director. “We also sell fish to distributors who distribute the fish to restaurants and hotels.” 

The fish is not cheap, with 100g of Swiss Lachs premium-quality smoked salmon costing 12 Swiss francs, or around £9.50. That’s around three times the price of good-quality smoked salmon in a UK supermarket, although the company can cite strong eco-credentials to justify some of the premium price tag, as well as farm-to-plate freshness for its fresh products in a country without a coastline.

98% water recycling

Alpine snow-melt water from the Moesa river is used in the tanks which are 32 metres in diameter and six metres deep. Water is filtered seven times and the nutrient-rich filter residues are subsequently used to produce biogas. 

The closed-loop RAS allows 98% of the water to be recycled, and there is no need for chemicals or antibiotics.

Swiss Alpine Fish uses a specially-developed, high-quality fish feed which is ethoxyquin free and is manufactured in Europe.

The company has previously grown rainbow trout but is now concentrating exclusively on Atlantic salmon.