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September 11, 2018

Ducktrap River expansion will tap growing smoked salmon market

Courtesy / Ducktrap River of Maine
Courtesy / Ducktrap River of Maine
Left to right, Ola Brattvol, Marine Harvest COO sales and marketing; Joe Fidalgo, managing director Marine Harvest USA consumer products; Jim Freiss, Marine Harvest corporate engineer Americas; Samantha Paradis, City of Belfast mayor; Rep. Erin Herbig, majority leader of the Maine House of Representatives; Don Cynewski, director, Ducktrap River of Maine; Marine Harvest CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog; and Marine Harvest CFO Ivan Vindham.

About Marine Harvest

Marine Harvest, which is headquartered in Bergen, Norway, is the global leader in the production of farm-raised salmon with a presence in 24 countries and a total of 13,233 employees worldwide. Its U.S. headquarters are in Miami, Fla. In 2017 it harvested 370,000 tons of salmon and sells salmon and processed seafood to more than 70 markets worldwide, according to the company's website. It is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and over the counter in the United States (OTC: MHGVY). Ducktrap River of Maine has been part of Marine Harvest since 2007.

Ducktrap River of Maine has completed its $5 milion expansion in a vacant warehouse across from its smoked seafood facility in the Belfast Business Park.

The expansion increases the Belfast facility's production capacity by 75% and will enable the company to capture an even greater share of the growing smoked salmon market in the United States, Ducktrap River of Maine Director Don Cynewski told Mainebiz in a telephone interview Tuesday morning.

Cynewski said senior management from Ducktrap's parent company, Marine Harvest ASA, attended Friday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for what he described as a "state-of-the-art" facility. Marine Harvest, with headquarters in Norway, is one of the largest seafood companies in the world and the world's largest producer of Atlantic salmon. It has owned Ducktrap River since 2007 and earlier had made a $4.5 million investment in 2013, a 21,000-square-foot expansion that doubled the Belfast facility's production and processing capacity and replaced its refrigeration/heating system with a unit that's more energy efficient.

Ducktrap River, one of Belfast's largest employers, currently has 160 employees, Cynewski said.

Cynewski said best practices from international smokehouses in the Marine Harvest organization were integrated in the design and construction of the new plant, which has been designed to exclusively produce cold-smoked salmon.

The state-of-the-art smokehouse, he said, is 50,000 square feet and has been equipped with technologically advanced kilns, slicers and packaging equipment from France, Denmark and Germany. It was designed based on three main fundamentals: food safety, consistency and high-quality.

Cold-smoked salmon, Cynewski said, is an expanding market and now represents more than 75% of Ducktrap's business.

"The industry and market is growing, I feel fortunate to be where we are right now," he said, noting that Marine Harvest has been making other investments in North America in addition to those it's made in Belfast. "They clearly have stated, there's much more opportunity for growth in the United States than in Europe — both for farm-raised and smoked salmon."

Cynewski said the two major land-based salmon aquafarms in early-stage development in Maine — namely Nordic Aquafarms in Belfast and Whole Oceans in Bucksport — are likely to provide a positive long-term benefit to Ducktrap if they're successful in getting the necessary permits and financing to become operational as planned within the next few years.

"It would be nothing but positive for us," he said. "It's an opportunity to have a good local source for the salmon we need to make our products."

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