Ode takes the final step to a fully integrated value chain

The Norwegian cod farmer has acquired Western Seaproducts AS - Måsøval's Vartdal processing plant -, which will now specialize in cod harvesting and processing.
View of the processing plant in Vartdal that Ode has acquired from Måsøval and will now specialize in cod harvesting and processing.

View of the processing plant in Vartdal that Ode has acquired from Måsøval and will now specialize in cod harvesting and processing.

Photo: Ode.

Ode, Norway's largest cod producer, has purchased the Vartdal processing plant, previously owned by Måsøval. This acquisition is the company's latest step in building a fully integrated value chain for cod farming.

Located a short distance from the company's headquarters in Ålesund, Ode's plan throughout 2024 is to develop the plant into a larger, specialized, and modern cod harvesting and processing facility with a solid and stable capacity.

"Today marks an important milestone and step for our company with our internal harvesting and processing," said Ode CEO and founder Ola Kvalheim. As he himself stated a few months ago in an exclusive interview with WeAreAquaculture, Ode's goal is to become "a leading seafood company over the next 30 years." It is the new culture of farmed cod.

A clear strategy of being fully integrated to control quality

After conducting a strategic review of its total harvesting capacities, Måsøval Group concluded at the end of 2023 the search for new owners for its processing plant in Vartdal. "It is a pleasure to announce a sales agreement has been agreed with the leading Norwegian cod farmer Ode AS. Ode is a fully integrated cod farmer and is planning to develop the company further and creating employment and activity in the region," the company stated last Friday in its release on the sale of Western Seaproducts AS.

Following this acquisition, the plant will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ode Group and, as mentioned, will be a specialized cod harvesting and processing facility. With this step, Ode's production now ranges from hatchery to marketing, including juvenile grow-out, farming, slaughtering, processing, and sales, completing the entire value chain.

"At Ode, we have a clear strategy of being fully integrated to control quality, traceability and efficiency across the entire value chain. By acquiring the processing plant in Vartdal, we are now involved all the way from the egg to the customer, a process that takes 3 years, caring for our fish to end up with the best products for our consumers," Kvalheim explained.

More activity and employment in the Vartdal area

As mentioned above, in announcing the acquisition, Ode's CEO and founder, Ola Kvalheim, said this marks a milestone and a key step for the company with its in-house harvesting and processing. "In addition, we are proud to add more activity and employment in Vartdal and local communities nearby. Most of the workforce comes from the local area, which highlights its local importance," he added.

As Kvalheim himself told Norwegian media Kyst.no, this transaction will allow the plant's employees who had been laid off to return to work. Most of the workforce, he also said, comes from the Ørsta and Volda area, which makes clear the importance of Ode's purchase of Western Seaproducts AS at a local level.

The Norwegian cod farmer has made significant investments in production capacity and is developing an organization that currently employs almost 150 people. Its goal going forward is to focus on expanding production step by step along its value chain to ensure that it can continue to grow with its existing customers and attract new ones, not only by increasing its processing capacity but also by offering more unique cod products.

Opening new channels and opportunities

There is currently a growing demand for fresh cod products among consumers, both in Europe and the rest of the world. Customers value the stable and high quality of a product that, being farmed, can be supplied every day of the year with great predictability and security of supply. Ode delivered just under 4 million kilos of fresh cod in 2023 and expects to triple volumes to 12 million kilos this year.

"Leading restaurants and retail chains believe in the farmed cod because consumers love the products, and the growing focus on healthy proteins produced with a low footprint," said Ode CEO and founder. "Aquaculture is becoming increasingly important, and our customers want their fair share of this megatrend. The increase in farmed cod is also crucial both for Norway's seafood activity and for customers, given the collapse in the population of wild cod in Norway and Russia."

"Ode already has everyday supply with a mix of certified whole cod and value-added cod products to a range of customers both in retail and Horeca mainly across the European market. Our focus going forward will be to develop markets and both packed consumer products and for the store counter and Horeca together with our existing and new customers. With more processing locally and pre-rigor quality we can offer high-quality products that are unique and can open new channels and opportunities," Kvalheim concluded.

About Ode

Headquartered in Ålesund, Ode is a fully integrated Norwegian seafood company that offers its customers premium quality sustainable farmed cod. The company has marine facilities in Nordfjord near Davik, Alida in Volda, Vorpeneset in Vestnes, and Aukan in Aure, and in October 2023 received approval for a sixth sea farm also in the municipality of Volda. All of these are served by Lumarine's breeding facility in Tjeldbergodden.  The company currently employs almost 150 people.

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