Babord: Harbour to Home
Based firmly in the Norwegian port of Måløy with its long fishing tradition, Babord is a new venture with a number of interesting twists on the process of bringing seafood to the consumer.
There’s a long history behind the company, which brings together the Kvalsvik family, which has been fishing since the family built its first boat back in 1914, and the Lyng family, which has a shorter fishing history that goes back to 1988. The company is part of a wider group that encompasses shipbuilding and a host of other maritime activities in and around Måløy, which includes operating and owning its own fishing vessels.
In 2011 the company bought a processing plant in Poland that had until then been producing breaded flounder, converting and expanding its capacity to bring it up to speed to handle 20,000 tonnes of redfish, 10,000 tonnes of redfish and around 8000 tonnes of breaded products annually.
Raw material is mainly sourced from Norway, especially during the spring season of heavy fishing in the north of Norway. Increasing amounts are also coming from Iceland, and salmon is being sourced from both Norwegian and Icelandic fish farming operations.
Managing director Agnar Lyng added that increased vertical integration is one of the options being explored, bringing in catches from the group’s own or contracted vessels, securing the source of at least part of Babord’s raw material.
“Our whitefish trawler Victoria May lands to Peterhead at the moment, as that’s the best place for whitefish,” he said, commenting that the logistics of taking catches from there to Poland are not easy, but possibilities are being explored.
“We are also in the pelagic sector, so it’s a possibility that we could be producing our own herring and mackerel products in the future. But for the moment we are co-operating with a couple of whitefish vessels, as well as sourcing whitefish from Norwegian auctions and salmon via agents.”
Babord is working with both fresh and frozen production, and according to Agnar Lyng, the location on the Polish coast provides a competitive advantage for Babord.
‘We can take delivery of fish at the factory in the afternoon and it can be with customers in the north of Italy, France or Ukraine the next morning,” he said. “Good logistics are very important, not least for the shelf life of the product.”
According to the company’s director of sales Laetitia Pipaluk Rosing, while fresh production is important, the bulk of Babord’s activity is in frozen processing and this year it is expected to be in the region of 8000-10,000 tonnes, largely for customers in mainland Europe, as well as some production for the UK and the US.
Entering the retail sector
There’s also much more to Babord that production for external customers, and the company aims to be in the retail sector on its own account. Much has been done behind the scenes to prepare the ground for this, including building up a distinct profile.
“This doesn’t happen overnight,’ Laetitia Rosing said. “But we’ll definitely be offering our own products under our own label this year.’
“We’re patient, focused and determined,” Agnar Lyng commented, adding that his son Simen is already playing a role in the company, based in Poland where he is managing production and developing Babord’s products, while daughter Rebekka is part of the sales team. “So the succession as a family owned company is secured for a while,” he laughed.
The line of Babord’s own products includes some more exotic items, such as skipjack tuna from Indonesia, prepared as an ingredient for salads or tapas as one of the pilot products to be produced under its own name.
“We were introduced to this last year ” managing director Agnar Lyng said. “This is something we developed with a French partner and it looks promising both for the Nordic market as well as for the French market. It’s an example of the tailor-made products we can produce for demanding customers, and our competitive advantage is that with a relatively short management chain, we are able to adjust and manoeuvre easily to come up with what the customer is looking for.”
Babord’s profile has been carefully crafted, and according to Laetitia Rosing, this has been built around the Harbour to Home message.
“We want to emphasise the security of the home, and particularly the role played by fishermen’s wives who have historically been in the background and a forgotten part of all this history. The fisherman’s wife who was at home while the men were away fishing represents security and constancy, and we want to highlight the importance of this independent strength as part of Babord’s image,” she said.
“This is a coastal, island community, built on fishing and the strong women who were in charge ashore, and that’s a key part of the image we want to project for Babord,” she said.
“We also emphasise the company’s green profile, as we aim to take the green revolution seriously in our planning for the future to become one of the most green and sustainable companies in this sector.”
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