Johan Andreassen, co-founder and chief executive of Atlantic Sapphire.

Atlantic Sapphire: a year of new challenges

The land-based salmon farmer’s chief executive Johan Andreassen comments on 2023 in the newly published annual report from the company

Johan Andreassen says 2023 was a year that brought new challenges for the Florida-based salmon producer but it was also a decisive year in the company’s efforts to produce healthy proteins in the United States.

Writing in the company’s annual report, he says the first part of the year was focused on the project with resetting the biofilters, which can be characterised as an enormous task as the company had to continue fish farming at the same time.

“After the critical work on the biofilters, the company faced new challenges during the summer months due to insufficient reliability of the water coolers, which resulted in higher temperatures in our fish tanks.”

New chillers

The company completed the installation of new chillers in the fourth quarter.

“Since the new cooling bank was installed, we have been able to stabilise our water temperatures to the target temperatures and have seen a drastic decrease in mortality and increase in production,” Andreassen writes.

Financial results (in US$ millions)

2023 2022

He calls land-based salmon farming a paradigm shift, which is in line with the company’s core values such as sustainability and responsible resource management.

“By switching from conventional open net-based cage systems to controlled, land-based facilities, we are taking significant steps towards reducing the environmental impact associated with traditional aquaculture,” he writes.

“This shift addresses critical issues such as water pollution, the transmission of diseases and the escape of farmed fish, and thus ensures the delicate balance in our oceans.”

'Optimal environment'

According to Andreassen, using recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), combined with advanced monitoring and automation, is part of what makes it possible for Atlantic Sapphire to create an optimal environment for salmon production.

“The integration of data analysis, artificial intelligence and renewable energy sources not only increases efficiency, but also positions us as pioneers in sustainable aquaculture practices.”

He emphasises that the company’s commitment to animal welfare is an integral part of this vision.

“The controlled environment we offer ensures that our salmon are reared in conditions similar to their natural habitat. This ethical approach not only reflects our corporate values, but also guarantees the production of high-quality, healthy fish,” he writes.

Local approach

Also from an economic perspective, he believes land-based salmon farming offers promising opportunities.

“By establishing these facilities closer to consumer markets, we reduce transport costs, minimise our carbon footprint and improve the freshness and traceability of our products. This local approach not only benefits the economies of the regions where we operate, but also strengthens our market position. We look forward to increasing our production in 2024 to reach full production in phase 1,” he concludes.

Atlantic Sapphire at a glance

  • Total harvest volume ended at 1,545 tonnes (head on gutted) in 2023, against 2,253 tonnes HOG in 2022.
  • So far this year (per Q1) approximately 1,150 tonnes (HOG) have been harvested
  • The company expects to harvest approximately 1,000 tonnes (HOG) in Q2 2024.
  • Under stable conditions, it is expected that ~80-90% of the total harvest will be sold at a premium price, which increases the average price level significantly.
  • The aim is to achieve an average price level of ~$12/kg when production is fully operational.
  • The average price level in Q1 2024 was negatively affected by the high proportion of small and downgraded fish in the lots before Q3.
  • Approximately $110 million had been invested in phase 2 by the end of 2023.