5000 tons of the world’s precious commodity – fish- is being discarded into the ocean every year by the countries that are fishing in Atlantic Ocean for many hundreds years (fish heads are cut off and thrown into the water). In our days of Innovation and Efficiency these heads – in fact highly demanded by many industries’ product – are being cut off and thrown back into the water, while the fish prices are going up because of the rapidly growing population (that needs more and more food) and because of growing fuel prices. In the country that does not have oil to drill, does not have gold or other expensive commodities, fish is the” gold and oil” of the economics. In 2012 total fish catch value in Iceland amounted more than US$ 1,32 billion., with a total marine exports – US$ 2,3 billion ( while Icelandic population is 321,800 in 2013). According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture of Iceland Cod is by far the most economically important fish stock in Iceland. In recent years cod products have accounted for 35-40% of the total seafood export revenue.
To make Icelandic fish industry even more profitable and fish itself totally utilized – this is the goal of the Iceland Ocean Cluster that was recently founded by Thor Sigfusson, PhD. Being a visionary and innovator Thor Sigfusson first of all is a very business oriented down to earth person with a solid banking and financial background and PhD in International Business. He and his team had built the Cluster from the scratch, creating an efficient sustainable chain of production and fish processing. Here they study the whole food innovation chain and aim at production of best quality food at a reasonable price – to match growing demand for fish.
As we mentioned Iceland Ocean Cluster is a business that sets its goal to utilize LITERALLY every gram of “Iceland’s Gold” and create consumer products that can be used globally.
Only on its very first steps, by the way which included dry fish heads products for exports, Cluster showed high efficiency by adding US $20 to each cod versus US $15 in other European countries: 30%+ efficiency growth. Now it diversifies into different industries, such as Feed for animals and poultry, Consumer products and delicatessen, Fashion, Cosmetics, Health Care, Medical Devices, quadrupling this way its own achievements by adding the value to each cod up to US $80. Here an impressive list of some current Cluster Products on this stage – which is, we stress, just one more step implementing the vision of its founder.
- Canned products made from cod liver: Smoked liver and liver paté
- Natural fish stock for food processing
- Cosmetics made from enzymes from inner organs
- Liver oil and intestine fish oil
- Hand- & foot creams with omega 3
- Caviar from roe
- Fish skin transformed to leather and medical device
Organizationally the Cluster mirrors the whole chain of the fish industry functioning – it consists of variety of businesses which are aimed at the innovation of the every single link in the industry chain – from the moment the fishermen teams go into the sea to the moment the processed fish products appear on the shelves of the various stores all over the world.
We met only some of the members of the cluster one of them is Mr. Atli Mar Josafatsson, General Manager of Polar Fishing Gear. His technology being one of the very first links in the fish value chain.
From the moment the fishing vessel goes out into the sea there are options for bringing the final price up or bring it down. Starting from the boat itself, how economical is its fuel consumption, how little damage or sometimes none at all it does to the sea bottom.
Another indirect fuel consumption factor – is how heavy the boat is – so once the fish is caught it needs to be preserved. Too much ice for deep freezing or a modern lighter technology for cooling that can extend the shelf life of the fish and lower the weight of the boat. This factor is dealt with by Thorsteinn Ingi Viglundsson, Thor Ice.
Everyone understands the need and precision in diamond cutting, so the same works for the most valuable commodity in Iceland, fileting fish can give a lot of left overs, that converts into wasted profits and higher market prices. So high-end technology is used to equip the boat with all the necessary tools to make sure that not a gram is wasted. Precision engineering in fish and food industry is dealt with by Daniel Niddam of 3X Technology.
And after the consumer has paid for the high quality fish , he/ she wants to know that it is really the fish from Icelandic waters, not the repurchase from an unknown source, so labeling and tracking technology is needed to guarantee the source. This aspect is dealt with by Hronn Margaret Magnusdottir of Fish Favor.