SalMar launches ambitious innovation and R&D initiative

The initiative aims to bring partners across the salmon supply chain together and build an innovation and R&D center.

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Illustration of the R&D center. Credits: SalMar
March 6, 2024

SalMar unveiled an ambitious innovation and R&D initiative, Salmon Living Lab, calling upon industry leaders, NGOs, academia, and other people who live by and with salmon to come together to share and learn. Cargill has been the first partner to sign up.

Salmon Living Lab is a collaborative effort that starts now. In addition to bringing partners across the salmon supply chain together, it will also lead to the building of an innovation and R&D center which will house various activities and function as a focal point for knowledge.

“Our aquaculture industry is at a crossroads. We have celebrated significant achievements in the past. We have succeeded in bringing large quantities of much sought-after salmon to customers and consumers worldwide. Now, we must acknowledge that we face greater challenges than we have before,” said Gustav Witzøe, founder and chair of SalMar ASA.

Official statistics show that key performance indicators are trending in the wrong direction. Fish mortality is increasing. Fish welfare is more challenging. The feed conversion ratio is going up. “We must realize that there are simply too many gaps in our knowledge. We need to know more about the salmon which is the most important part of our value chain,” Witzøe continued.

In addition to its expertise, SalMar will be supporting the initiative with a strong financial commitment. One envisions about NOK 500 million to ensure that the project get off on a good start where the contribution will be shared among the parties who join the project. Its partners will be asked to contribute, but details are yet to be confirmed. When and where the center will be built is not yet decided.

The partnership

SalMar is the second-largest farmer of Atlantic salmon in the world, and is deeply involved in the entire value chain. Cargill has been a key supplier and partner of SalMar for decades. Salmon Living Lab is a continuation of this close collaboration with SalMar and potentially with other key players in the salmon industry.

“We believe that bringing together the holistic capabilities of SalMar and Cargill will drive greater impact in improving animal welfare and sustainability, ultimately protecting, and aiding further sustainable growth of this critical industry. There is a need for more collaboration to tackle the challenges we are currently facing,” said Helene Ziv-Douki, Cargill Aqua Nutrition president. “To feed the growing world population and meet the increased demand for seafood, we need to work together. This first-of-its-kind end-to-end research collaboration will help us bring the expertise of two world-class companies to the table in a way that’s never been done before to solve some of the biggest challenges facing our industry.”

Salmon Living Lab is a unique initiative that seeks to engage an entire industry in solving the challenges salmon face today.

“SalMar and Cargill consider us founders and catalysts of what we hope and expect will become a broad industry initiative. We are calling upon other industry leaders, NGOs, academia and other people who live by and with the salmon to come together to share and learn,” said Frode Arntsen, CEO of SalMar ASA.

The activities of Salmon Living Lab will not replace other company-specific research and development initiatives by the respective contributors, and all of those involved will bring only data and information that they are permitted to share. Collaboration will also be organized within the boundaries of what is acceptable by competition authorities and in accordance with relevant rules and regulations.

“As an industry, we have invested billions in advanced technology. Now we need to invest in biology. Salmon farmers like SalMar and countries that host our industry have set ambitious targets for growth. The Salmon Living Lab initiative must be seen in this context. In order for SalMar and the industry to achieve the ambitious goals and deliver according to expectations with respect to sustainability, we need to know more about our salmon, and what the fish needs from us,” Arntsen concluded.