Marine Harvest’s switch to Mowi two years in the pipeline, full brand value expected in seven years
Preparations for Marine Harvest’s name change to Mowi and the launch of the supporting global brand took two years, company CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog has revealed.
Bergen, Norway-headquartered Marine Harvest wants the Mowi name change to be effective from 1 January, 2019. It will need to be approved by shareholders at an Extraordinary General Assembly, taking place on 4 December.
Speaking at the company’s Capital Markets Day in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aarskog explained that there had been a lot of internal discussions in the run up to this week’s announcement about whether it was possible to launch a global brand without changing the name of the company, and that it was determined that the alignment made sense.
“We have decided to go all in, and the reason for that is that the idea here is to use the whole value chain throughout and from the start with the eggs to the end and the perfect salmon on the consumer’s dish. The integrated value chain, what we have built over time, is extremely important," he said. “Focusing on quality and focusing on differentiation, we have a lot of salmon in our cages. That means we have a lot of exceptionally good salmon, we have a lot of normal salmon, and we have some salmon that are not perfect. It’s salmon like with anybody else. I think the future of salmon is Mowi."
The company has been using breeding to select specific fish to ensure it gets the “perfect quality” salmon. This is supported by feeds formulated from special “Mowi recipes." While the recipes and the fish will vary depending on specific market requirements, they will all be high in omega-3 content and certified in proactive food safety programs, he said.
Using its network of farming operations, a number of specific farms have been selected to produce Mowi fish.
“These farmers are taking care of the most valuable fish that Marine Harvest produces," Aarskog said. “This is the way to go about it – special breed, special feed, special farms.”
The name “Mowi” was founded in 1964 when early “pioneers” who were farming trout in small earth ponds realized that growing these fish in such a way meant they tasted of mud. They then decided to go for the “real fish…salmon,” said Aarskog.
“These people had vision," he said. "At the beginning, they were already thinking about the quality of the product and testing it.”
Aarskog added that the pronunciation of Mowi (Mow-ee/Moo-vee) isn’t important, citing the different pronunciations of furniture company Ikea as an example.
“It will work, and it’s short, which is also a good reason for choosing it," he said.
The brand objectives are about thinking ahead, he said.
“We know you can’t build a brand overnight…this is going to take time. The most successful brands are good in about five to seven years after launch. That is a fact," he said. “The foundation of salmon – with its unique color – if there is one product in the world that you can brand then it’s salmon. It has highly unique capabilities.”
In terms of market drivers, consumers want taste, convenience and health; all of which can be built into the final product, said Aarskog.
“Maybe we are not creating history today, but we are not far from it," he said.
Over the next two years, EUR 35 million (USD 39.6 million) will be invested in the Mowi brand. By 2025, the target is for the brand to achieve a turnover of EUR 1 billion (USD 1.1 billion), while its target profit is an extra EUR 100 million (USD 113.1 million) above its non-branded fish.
“We are doing this to make sure that the consumer and the shareholder over the long-term will be more happy,” Aarskog said.