Organic salmon producer and Galway firm, Marine Harvest, has topped the new Coller FAIRR (Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return) Protein Producer Index.
This index is the first comprehensive international assessment of how some of the world’s biggest farmers of meat and fish are managing their sustainability risks and is based on criteria such as use of antibiotics, animal welfare and food safety.
With a final score of 82, Marine Harvest sits prestigiously at the top of the final list.
It was one of only five companies of the total list consisting of sixty firms to receive the overall ranking of ‘low risk’.
The assessment looked at environmental awareness, climate change, food safety and worker safety.
It found that although more than half of companies surveyed are failing to properly document their impact, salmon farming companies rank as among the most sustainable and compliant.
Second position was occupied by another leading Norwegian fish farming company.
Welcoming the publication of the index, Marine Harvest Ireland Managing Director, Jan Feenstra, said:
“This is a further endorsement of the highest standards of food production and best practice rigidly applied by our company.
“With global demand for reliable sources of quality protein increasing rapidly, we intend to invest between €20 and €25million in a number of sites off the west coast of Ireland which could create 250 new jobs.
“However, we can only proceed if afforded certainty around the licencing process and regulatory regime here and we are not currently being provided with any reassurance in that regard.”
The report also commended Marine Harvest on its approach to antibiotics. The authors stated that the company tracks antibiotic usage on a minute level and only uses antibiotics when fish are at risk. It aims to have “minimal” use of antibiotics by 2022. This stands out when compared with most protein producers.
Those behind the ranking believe that large listed companies producing meat, fish and dairy need to manage the need for radically improving their sustainability credentials if they are to remain attractive to investors.
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental impact their food is having and are willing to alter their diet to decrease their environmental footprint.
According to FAIRR’s head of research and corporate engagement, Aarti Ramachandran, both regulators and consumers are displaying broad trends towards requiring healthier food and food that is produced in a more sustainable way – generating less emissions, less water use and reducing biodiversity loss.
FAIRR believes that the Paris Agreement has put climate issues firmly on the investment agenda.
In Ireland alone, Marine Harvest Ireland (MHI) contributes over €21million to the domestic economy annually with some 800 Irish suppliers presently doing business with the company here.
MHI is a subsidiary of the Marine Harvest ASA headquartered in Norway, which is a global-force in aquaculture with more than 13,200 employees operating across 24 countries worldwide and servicing 70 markets across the globe.
The company had a turnover of almost €3.6billion in 2017 and is prepared to invest in market opportunities that offer growth potential. To that end, it has recently approved an £80 million investment in Scotland.
Marine Harvest has operated successfully in Ireland for 39 years to employing approximately 300 people between its salmon farms and hatcheries in Donegal, Mayo, Cork and Kerry, as well as a sea farming partnership in Clifden, County Galway