On 10-10-2020, we stopped using air freight. This makes Hiddenfjord the first salmon producer in the world to rely purely on low-emission transportation of goods.
Salmon is a sustainable food choice with a much lower carbon footprint than other sources of animal protein. However, air freight is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions, and a large part of the fresh farmed salmon is exported to global markets by air. A recent report (2020) from the Norwegian independent research organization, SINTEF, shows that freight carried by air produces around 50 times (dependent of flight type and distance) more CO2 than transoceanic sea freight. Stopping to use air freight therefore has a major positive impact on global CO2 emissions.
Other research from SINTEF established that by replacing air freight with sea freight (including freight by land) we at Hiddenfjord have been able to reduce our carbon emissions from overseas transportation by remarkable 94%.
Previous studies from 2009 showed that the carbon footprint of salmon production was 2,9 kg CO2 per kg of edible meat. However, recent studies show that this figure is now higher for the industry in general. One reason is improved methods for calculating CO2 emissions. But other main reasons are the increase in mortality rates (due to sea lice) and the use of service vessels for different operations. Average emissions for Norwegian salmon production are now 7,0 kg CO2 per kg1 of edible meat. But even with this figure, salmon has a much lower carbon footprint than e.g. pork or beef.
Hiddenfjord CO2 emissions from production are expected to be lower than the industry average. This is mainly due to a lower-than-average mortality rate, efficient feeding, and because we do not use well boats. This needs to be confirmed by independent research, which is being performed now and is expected to be ready by February 2021. Therefore, the production numbers in the graph below are based on the average emissions for salmon production from the recent study mentioned above. The numbers regarding transport, however, are actual Hiddenfjord numbers based on transportation from the Faroe Islands to markets in the US and China respectively.
Idealistic Focus on Sustainability
With this move we have made a decision that is unprecedented in a global food industry, which too often engages in a lot of talk and very little real action on true environmental protection.
Our decision to eliminate all air freight comes as a consequence of our strong dedication to be environmentally sustainable. This is our core value. We must take care of our environment, so future generations can have the same opportunities as we have today. We must farm salmon in harmony with nature, and we strive to ensure that all our activities are performed with minimum impact on the environment.
As a family-owned company we are allowed the liberties of having an idealistic focus on sustainability without a constant pressure from shareholders on short-term profits.
The idea to eliminate air freight is not new. We have worked with the concept for years and have systematically reduced the use of air freight. At a board meeting in December 2019, we made the decision to completely stop in 2020, and we chose the day 10-10-2020 as our deadline.
Although some of our customers in the overseas markets were sceptical at first, we have proved that we maintain the same quality, even when the salmon is shipped by boat to overseas destinations.
Our ability to maintain the quality despite the prolonged transportation time is mainly due to our unique method of stress-free harvesting. Our salmon is carefully gutted, cleaned and packed within 3 hours after swimming in the open seas around the Faroe Islands – the natural home of the Atlantic Salmon. We have been refining these processes for a long time and believe we have developed something truly unique.
A healthy, quality product that is environmentally sustainable at the same time – this is what we offer our customers.
1 Numbers are excl. land use change (LUC), which can be a significant factor. But numbers are also based on assumption that byproducts are not used.