Founded in 2017, the company’s 1,000 tonne farm in Varkaus achieved maximum capacity in 2020 and its products are currently sold in more than a thousand grocery stores in Finland under the Saimaan Tuore brand.
With the investment programme announced today, Finnforel enters its next growth phase, as the company aims for rapid expansion in both the Finnish and global markets.
“Only 0.1 percent of all the fish in the world is produced in an ecologically sustainable way. This is a massive €300 billion business that must change if we want to save our seas and lakes. I believe that Finnforel’s highly refined model, which works without antibiotics or environmental emissions, can claim a significant part of this market. Over the next decade, the mission of the Finnforel team is to bring Finnish genetics and fish farming know-how to the world. In the future, fish will be farmed where consumers are,” said Pekka Viljakainen, chairman of the board and one of the founders of Finnforel Oy.
Construction work on the extension of its existing farm, which is due to cost approximately €25 million and triple its production capacity, will begin immediately.
The company also plans to start exporting its trout in December 2021, to the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. Meanwhile they are also entering the design phase for several similar trout-farming projects in Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
A significant part of Finnforel’s expansion plans is to introduce industrial-scale broodstock and fry production suitable for recirculating aquaculture systems. At present, most of the eggs used in fish farming in Finland are imported. Finnforel is building a €12 million genetics and fry plant in Hollola that, upon completion, will have the capacity to produce eggs for six Finnforel gigafactor plants around the world.
The project, which is being implemented in close co-operation with Natural Resources Institute Finland, is also important in terms of Finland’s emergency supply. Together with the Finnish institute, Finnforel will help secure the supply of fish eggs and fry, for example in crisis situations. Since the early 1990s, Natural Resources Institute Finland has carried out pioneering research in rainbow trout genetics, breeding and animal health. This project marks the first time that the results of this work are being applied and commercialised to this extent.
“According to the business model created by Finnforel, fish will be processed from eggs to consumer packaging. By securing the entire production chain, we create an easy way for consumers and retailers to buy and sell fresh and delicious fish. The consumption of fish is growing internationally, and I firmly believe that more vigilant consumers will increasingly favour organically produced alternatives that are easy and quick to prepare,” says Max Alfthan, managing director of Finnforel.
Finnforel is financing these investments totalling €45 million through a €34 million share issue, €4.5 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and €6 million in loans from banks.
The share issue will make significant Finnish and international institutional investors shareholders in Finnforel. These include Ahlström Invest, Finnish Industry Investment Ltd (TESI), the European Investment Bank (European Fund for Strategic Investment), The Good Investors (Ireland/France) and other European family enterprises.