With a vision – to raise the world’s most sustainable fish.
Published May 9, 2017
In 2013 Johan Ljungquist and Mikael Olenmark Gårdsfisk started with a vision – to raise the world’s most sustainable fish and allow everyone to eat fish without contributing to overfishing, nutrient enrichment and pollution. In 2015, the won the regional final of Local EAT Award. We caught up with them to see how their business is growing.
It’s been almost two years since you won the regional final of Local EAT Award. What’s happened since?
We have continued to develop our concept of sustainable aquaculture and expanded our production capacity to showcase the potential of the concept more clearly. We have received a lot of attention for our venture, particularly within our own sector of agriculture and aquaculture. Last year our smoked Clarias, a strong competitor to red-listed eel, was centrally listed by Coop and ICA in Sweden, which meant we could reach more than 250 shops across the country. Reaching so many shops is a huge step in the direction of fulfilling our vision, which is being able to supply sustainable fish to everyone. In 2016 we also won Coop’s sustainability prize Änglamarksprisen, which was another piece of proof that there is significant interest around what we do.
What do you think is the reason you went so far in the competition?
We think there is a lot of interest around solutions that allow people to make smart choices and reduce their environmental impact. The aquaculture sector is facing huge changes and there are going to be stricter and stricter demands on the ways that fish is farmed, and conventional methods are going to be hard to defend. I think many see that our consept solves most of the problems and that even though we are producing on a small scale today, there is huge potential for this kind of fish farming to grow and become a business model to reckon with.
What’s your biggest challenge in reaching out to a bigger audience?
We’ve just started scraping the surface with marketing, and reaching stockists around the country was the first step. Because we don’t farm the conventional fish species that are usually sold, we need to convince consumers and raise awareness about our products and why they’re worth choosing. It’s always hard to change peoples’ habits and product choice can be very instinctive, so getting people to swap cod for tilapia isn’t done in an instant, but takes time and can be expensive.
Is it possible we’ll see you in the list of this year’s applicants?
That’s not impossible. We weren’t aware that entrants are allowed to apply more than once.
What does the future look like for you and what’s happening in the next few years?
This year we are prioritising doubling capacity again on our own farm and starting development at the first external licensed producer. After that we are aiming to increase production with more farms and licensed producers as more people start to choose our products. We have also taken a step towards offering fresh fish in large parts of the country through collaboration with some really good wholesalers. Our primary focus is going to be on getting more people to choose Gårdsfisk-products and as knowledge about them increases we have more species and more products ready to develop and release on the market.
Applications for the Local EAT Award will be accepted from April 6th through May 10th. Apply at www.eatforum.org/lea
The Local EAT Award is searching for Scandinavia’s next green food entrepreneurs, to select the best idea in healthy and sustainable food. The annual competition is held by Nordic Choice Hotels, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the Swedish Federation of Business Owners (Företagarna) and EAT Foundation. The winning idea is rewarded with a cash prize of 100 000 NOK, a mentorship meeting with Petter A. Stordalen and participation at the Stockholm Food Forum, June 12-13th.