Norwegian salmon in top spot on global sustainable food ranking

Three Norwegian seafood companies have ranked in the top 10 of the Coller FAIRR Protein Index, a list of some of the world’s most sustainable protein producers. Norway’s Mowi, a salmon producer, reigns at the top of the list for the second consecutive year.

Companies from Norway have ranked in each of the three years the report has been published. This will come as no surprise to consumers in South-east Asia, where consumption of Norwegian seafood continues to increase. According to the Norwegian Seafood Council’s Seafood Consumer Insight 2020 study, several countries in the region expressed a “clear preference” for seafood products from Norway.

In Singapore, where each person consumes an average of 21kg of seafood per year, 47% of the respondents indicated a preference for Norwegian seafood and salmon over that of other countries. This was echoed by consumers in Taiwan at 45%, Thailand at 36%, and Malaysia at 35%.

Amid growing food security and sustainability concerns globally and a local agriculture sector plagued by issues such as overfishing, unsustainable farming methods and food wastage, sustainable sources of food and protein – such as Norwegian seafood – will be particularly important in feeding South-east Asia’s ever-growing population.

Speaking about the positive recognition for Norway’s companies and their methods, Renate Larsen, CEO of the Norwegian Seafood Council, said: “There is little doubt that Norwegian aquaculture is among the most sustainable food production there is, and the industry is continually working to further evolve and advance in a sustainable way. Eating more seafood is a good way to reduce our climate emissions, and Norwegian salmon companies are leading the way in sustainable protein production.”

One key area where Norwegian aquaculture bucks the trend found in the Coller FAIRR report is on the use of antibiotics in production. Many protein producers use antibiotics to help animals achieve higher slaughter weights, and as a preventive measure to help support against disease caused by unhygienic and crowded conditions in slaughterhouses.

Whilst the use of antibiotics has been all but eliminated in Norwegian salmon farming, 70% of the companies in the index, and companies producing beef or dairy, have been ranked as “high risk” for antibiotic stewardship.

“Norway has never produced more salmon than in 2019, yet the use of antibiotics continues to drop. This is the result of strong focus on fish welfare and food safety in the industry, and we are proud to say Norwegian aquaculture is the best in the world when it comes to antibiotics use in animal food production,” Larsen added.

Whilst the Norwegian seafood companies represent the positive end of the scale, the report pointed out that 86% of the large meat and dairy products have not set meaningful targets for how to reduce emissions, emphasising the potential of seafood to meet future dietary requirements in a world where population and life expectancy continue to increase, yet land mass does not.

Jeremy Coller, founder of the FAIRR-network, concluded: “If global animal agriculture was a country, it would be the second highest emitter of greenhouse gases. FAIRR’s data shows three in four global meat and dairy giants are hiding the full extent of their climate emissions or failing to set meaningful targets to reduce them.”