Kalaneuvos expansion delivers the Nordics’ largest fish-smoking facility

Published on
December 4, 2019

Being better equipped to meet the rising demand for smoked fish products both from consumers in Finland and also from overseas markets was the main driver behind the multi-million-dollar expansion of Kalaneuvos Oy’s processing plant in Sastamala.

Costing EUR 28 million (USD 31 million), this new expansion more than doubles the family-owned group’s smoked fish production capacity to 8,000 metric tons (MT). The facility now houses 10 smoking cabins for hot-smoked products and three cabins for cold-smoked products. It also features three filleting lines, one of which is fully-automated, capable of producing 12,000 MT of product annually.

Approximately 30 new jobs have been generated at the Sastamala plant, which is now the largest fish-smoking plant in the Nordic region.

Kalaneuvos Deputy Managing Director Toni Hukkanen told SeafoodSource that the investment – the largest in its 44-year history – was a necessary move.

Kalaneuvos produces and markets fish products under the Kalaneuvos brand as well as for private label brands and retail chains. But for the past three years, it has not been able to fully meet – and therefore capitalize on – the growing popularity of smoked products, he explained.

“The markets are there and they are growing. The only problems have been on the supply side. Our current factory was built in 1989, and was no longer big enough. We were getting more and more sales enquiries from export markets as well as from Finnish customers. It was clear to us that there was a lot more opportunities to go after,” he said. “Traditionally, the Finnish market consumes hot-smoked products, and we use the wood from certain trees to do this smoking – it’s a nice consumer story. I have a strong belief in the potential of hot-smoked in other countries, particularly in Europe, but perhaps also North America and Asia. Often when visitors to Finland have the chance to taste our hot-smoked products, they find them very interesting. They really like them. This has led us to believe there are many markets that don’t have this type of product. Of course there is a lot of work to do to open up these markets, but I believe there’s a lot of opportunity too.”

In addition to the meeting the growing demand for smoked products, the investment will support Kalaneuvos’s EUR 40 million (USD 44.3 million) turnover fish-farming business, Nordic Trout. This subsidiary has steadily increased its rainbow trout production to a level of around 10,000 MT, with equal contributions from its farms in Finland and Sweden, and this has provided the opportunity to increase its value-added product offering.

“In addition to hot-smoked and cold-smoked, we’re producing more and more fresh and frozen fillets and portion-sized products. And as well as the trout, there’s the opportunity to increase our range of salmon products,” he said.

Kalaneuvos has been importing salmon from Norway since the late 1990s – a business that has “increased heavily” over the years, Hukkanen explained. Today, salmon and trout account for about half of its overall output and the remainder is a combination of species, including Baltic herring.

Its subsidiary Martin Kala Oy, located in Turku and Kaskinen, is the largest Baltic herring fillet manufacturer in Finland.

The group first got involved in fish farming in 2015 with ownership of Finland’s biggest trout farm. This is a sector that it would “definitely” like to expand its presence in, Hukkanen confirmed, though he conceded that it’s “quite a challenge” to secure aquaculture licenses in Finland.

“With water covering more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, but only providing 2 percent of the food that we eat, we do see a big future for aquaculture,” he said. “It’s about healthier products, it’s more sustainable and eco-friendlier, with low CO2 emissions, so occasionally when I reflect on fish farming, I am surprised that it’s not bigger globally than it currently is.”

Hukkanen also reckons there could be opportunities to expand the group’s offering with new species, and is constantly looking at and evaluating the market potential of alternative fish products.

“But we have to remember that Finland is still our main market, and it’s a fact that salmon and trout occupy a very controlling position here,” he said. “We have to follow the consumers. Essentially, they decide what we make.”

He also highlighted that Kalaneuvos has licenses to export to China and Russia, and that St. Petersburg is just a five-hour drive away.

“So we also see opportunities for growth there as well,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Kalaneuvos Oy

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500