Norwegian companies which own salmon farms and factories in Shetland are again reporting record profits from their operations in the islands in 2010 amid continued high prices for the pink fish.
Grieg Seafood, which owns Hjaltland, Shetland’s biggest fish farming and processing outfit, recorded Shetland sales worth £72.3 million during 2010 from 16,988 tons of gutted fish, up from 12,395 tons the previous year when it was hit by an ISA cull and sea lice problems.
It made a profit before interest and tax of £19.5 million from its Shetland operation with the salmon making a profit of £1.20 a kilo, up from 64p a kilo in 2009.
Grieg’s Shetland haul contributed 28 per cent of the wider group’s £70 million profit, which rocketed from just £16.8 million the previous year thanks to higher salmon prices, bigger harvest volumes and improved husbandry. Grieg said the improvement in Shetland was “particularly strong” although bad weather in December affected harvesting.
The company reported: “The biological situation in Shetland remains good. An unusually early winter led to an earlier and quicker fall in seawater temperatures which in turn has led to somewhat lower growth than normal.”
One of the other big players in Shetland, Scottish Sea Farms, is joint-owned by SalMar and Lerøy Seafood. They more than doubled their profits last year from their SSF operations in Shetland and elsewhere in Scotland. The pre-tax profit from 27,100 tonnes of gutted salmon which they shared was over £36 million – up from just over £17 million in 2009. Profit per kilo was around £1.14, up from about 69p last year.
In 2011 all eyes will be on how Polish/Norwegian newcomer Morpol fares with its farms in Shetland. Its operation is based on the former Lakeland and Mainstream Scotland farms it bought late last year and has now renamed the Meridian Salmon Group, which also includes farms and other assets in Orkney and other parts of the UK.
Until now Morpol has been a major salmon processor and smoker but has moved into salmon farming in a big way to try to secure its source of raw material. It has plans to expand production where it can.
The company reported that its income from fish farms was restricted in the last quarter of 2010 despite the record prices because it is tied into contracts set at the start of the year. These are to be renegotiated soon to increase income.
Morpol also reported some sea lice problems in Shetland towards the end of the year which had a minor impact on the overall cost of production.