The following story was written by Heinen’s partner Elaine T. Cicora.
Like most modern food stories, the tale of Kvarøy Arctic contains two inseparable threads: one that outlines the product and a second that captures the process.
In the case of Kvarøy Arctic, a family-owned-and-operated business since 1976, the product is wholesome, nutrition-packed Atlantic salmon, drawn from pristine Norwegian waters. And the process? Aquaculture, practiced in the most sustainable, ethical and environmentally sensitive manner possible, utilizing leading-edge technology wielded by a team of devoted “water farmers.”
Heinen’s shoppers will find 2-pound packages of Atlantic frozen salmon in the seafood department under the Heinen’s label, beginning this summer.
“I have spent more than 10 years in the sustainable, ethical aquaculture space, driven by the deep-seated belief that aquaculture deserves a seat at the table in the future of food,” says Jennifer Bushman, food industry vet and Kvarøy Arctic’s strategic development officer. “Seventy-one percent of our planet is water: How we take care of that resource is exceedingly important. Right now, we are eating our wild seafood into extinction. The only way the oceans can continue to supply this healthful, lean protein, that everyone agrees is good for us, is through farming.
“This is aquaculture’s moment,” she concludes. “If we don’t get this right, there will be no fish left in the seas to eat.”
That’s what makes Kvarøy Arctic “the story of a lifetime,” Jennifer says.
Set on Kvarøy Island, on the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Inner Passage, Kvarøy Arctic is committed to preserving the environment for its close-knit community – and for future generations. “The work that these amazing water farmers are doing to raise sustainable, nutritious, delicious fish is no different than what is being done by the wonderful family farmers and producers who raise Heinen’s other products,” Jennifer says. “Their purpose – which they take very seriously – is to farm in a way that honors their water just as other family farmers honor their land.”
To that end, the company has developed sophisticated processes to reduce emissions, limit its water footprint and establish regular monitoring of water quality and their salmons’ good health. By choice, their pens are fallowed three times longer than required by industry standards. Cold, deep waters, active currents and a ratio of 2-percent fish to 98-percent water ensure the salmon develop plenty of muscle and a crisp, bright flavor (“mer-roir,” they call it, to emphasize the unique flavor imparted by these pristine seas). And as in the wild, symbiotic lumpsuckers – not antibiotics, pesticides or chemicals of any sort – keep the salmon free of parasites.
As part of the family’s commitment to transparency and traceability, Kvarøy Arctic is the first in its industry to utilize blockchain technology to provide access to pure, unadulterated data collected directly from the source.
The ultimate key to Kvarøy Arctic’s success, however, may be found in its feed, an innovative blend of ingredients that includes fish meal and fish oil derived from sustainably sourced trimmings, and nutrient-rich microalgae bursting with essential fatty acids. This process bypasses the use of wild “feeder” fish, allowing them to remain in the food chain and supporting environmental health.
It also makes Kvarøy Arctic salmon uniquely nutritious: A single 3.5-ounce portion contains over 2,000 micrograms of Omega-3, which is more than a week’s worth of the daily requirement and double the content of other farmed salmon. No surprise, then, that Kvarøy Arctic salmon carries the American Heart Association’s Red-Check Shield as part of a heart-healthy diet. Meantime, the feed process has dramatically reduced the presence of PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) and other environmental contaminants: Kvarøy Arctic salmon is 339 times cleaner than the FDA specifications of 2 parts per million, with about one-ninth the PCBs found in other farmed salmon.
Bringing Kvarøy Arctic salmon to Heinen’s shoppers was a given, says Jennifer. “This is all about relationships,” she says. “When we knew we wanted to bring this product to the United States, there was no doubt that Heinen’s would be at the top of our list. I’ve worked with Heinen’s on their seafood program for more than 8 years, and I have always admired their values. Their legacy as a family-owned company that really understands the needs and desires of their community turns shoppers from consumers into contributors to a healthful way of life.”
Meantime, Jennifer remains committed to spreading the word about the urgent need for ethical, sustainable aquaculture of the kind that Kvarøy Arctic so diligently practices.
“This has been the greatest work of my lifetime,” she says about her advocacy. “It is an honor to serve the Kvarøy Arctic family and the intention they put out into the world, every single day.”