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BERGEN, Norway — Oslo, Norway-listed firm Atlantic Sapphire, which is building the first large-scale commercial land-based salmon farm in the US, aims to conquer 10% of the North American market for this product, Johan Andreassen, the firm’s founder and CEO, said.

“The US salmon market is expected to double in the next ten years — we share that view with Marine Harvest and others — and we are planning to take 10% of the [US] market,” Andreassen said at a presentation of the firm’s project during the North Atlantic Seafood forum

The growth of the US salmon market.

“The US market is the largest salmon market in the world. Growth is significantly higher than the population increase and, at the same, it’s has one of the lowest pro capita consumption in the Western hemisphere and this is a tremendous opportunity for growth,” Andreassen said.

“We think it [the US salmon market] has a big untapped potential for others as well, both pen-based and land-based [operations],” he added.

“Our plan is to build salmon farming in end markets, in the short-and-mid term, in the US. We are fully permitted to produce 90,000 metric tons in Miami,” Andreassen said, pointing to his firm’s management team great experience in salmon production.

Atlantic Sapphire, which plans to start harvest in the second quarter of 2020, aims to grow a capacity of 30,000t per year by 2023 and 90,000t by 2026.

Atlantic Sapphire’s financial and operational targets.

Atlantic Sapphire is a Norwegian company, founded eight years ago and listed in Oslo; but has  no assets in Norway.

“The only reason why we do farming in Norway is because we have the fjords. If you take the fjords out of the commercial plan, there is no reason to be in Norway,” Andreassen said.

The executive pointed out that producing in the US will give Atlantic Sapphire access to clients not accessible to pen farms, such as the federal government and the US Army, one of the largest foodservice customers in the country.

Atlantic Sapphire’s “Bluehouse”.

Undercurrent News visited Atlantic Sapphire’s plant in southern Florida earlier this year.

The firm has already built a 3,000t land-based farm in Denmark, which is considered to be an asset of strategic importance for the company in terms of technology development and innovation. The Danish plant will maintain this level of production volume.

“Our plant in Denmark produces 3,000t: we have done all the mistakes you can imagine but we have never done the same mistake twice,” Andreassen said, referring to a loss last year.

The farm is transforming how salmon is produced globally, according to Andreassen.

The firm claimed its offering in the US will have a better environmental impact than fresh salmon coming from traditional pen-based farms in other countries.

At present, 98% of salmon consumed in the US is imported from other countries, mainly Chile, Canada, Norway and other European countries. At present, fresh salmon is delivered into the US by plane from other countries, a factor that increases its carbon footprint, Andreassen said.