As far as fisheries goes, it’s often considered an unglamourous and unexciting industry.
Yet it is one of the largest industries in the world, employing more than 260 million people worldwide and providing a primary protein source to almost 3.5 billion people. Globally, almost 12% of the world’s population is reliant on the industry for their livelihood, with tens of billions of dollars pumping through the value chain every day. With such a large social and economic importance, its story is certainly worth telling.
Norebo, a global fishing company head-quartered in Murmansk, Russia, that supplies household names like McDonalds and Birds Eye is one of the leaders that is poised to help prepare the industry and its players for the coming challenges as the world moves forward from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Under its vertically integrated holding structure, Norebo’s portfolio includes 25 companies operating across every level of the value chain, from harvesting, processing, transporting, and trading. The company was born in early post-Soviet Russia and is one of the first successes of the fledgling free-market country. Over the past quarter of a century, it has grown into a globally recognised business employing world-class standards in quality, safety, corporate governance and regulatory compliance and transparency. Today, among its other catches, the company provides almost a quarter of all cod sold in the UK from its fleets fishing in the North Atlantic.
The Way Forward
So, what does recovery look like in the Russian fishing industry? There’s no doubt the pandemic hit the seafood industry hard; protective measures, including the global lockdowns led to an immediate impact felt across the supply chain. From restaurant closures impacting demand and sales, to social distancing measures and new safety protocols that put a temporary halt to fishing and production, across the board. Additionally, in the first half of 2020, China’s decision to close its borders to imports from many nations, meant the country’s fishing industry was dealt another huge blow and as a whole it suffered from economic losses. However, as has become clear over the past year, some have weathered the storm better than others.
Norebo has invested heavily on maximising the efficiency of its operations across its value chain to ensure it navigated the challenges of last year as best it could and has set its sights on expansion on continued growth.
In the last quarter of 2020, and the first half of 2021, as global restrictions began to ease, the company has seen a resurgence in demand, particularly in the UK where the British love of fish and chips has no doubt played a big role. As restaurants re-opened, the public began eating out in their droves after eighteen months of being confined to home, and demand for its fish from its commercial clients has returned in a big way.
The company has been able to meet this increasing demand because of the consistency of its supply, even at the height of the pandemic, where the company employed its technologically advanced fleet to ensure its supply suffered minimal impact.
For Norebo’s founder, Vitaly Orlov, environmental stewardship has always been a driving force and success doesn’t just mean profit, it also means ensuring Norebo plays a leading role in helping to transform commercial fisheries in Russia into a truly sustainable industry that provides a source of employment and economic and social benefits to communities across Russia. In an article published on Harvard.edu Orlov says: “While commercial success is important, sustainability is at the very heart of my business. To build a fishing industry Russia can be proud of means, first and foremost, protecting our fisheries.”
The company takes its role as an industry leader very seriously, and Orlov acknowledges that Norebo’s reputation is both a responsibility and an opportunity. While they are responsible for ensuring the sustainability and protection of the marine habitats in which they operate for future generations, through this endeavour, the opportunity is there for the company to benefit from technological advances and that gives it a competitive advantage over others.