Salmon’s up, water’s up, and new van charging up

Salmon Prices
In last month’s newsletter I highlighted that as we approached Christmas we were experiencing the usual spike in prices and predicted the next critical period to be the run up to Easter. Well things are already hotting up, the Norwegian and Scottish salmon farmers (or the North Atlantic Alliance as I like to call them) are back in full production already. The market is unusually strong and price is already 10% above pre-Christmas levels and shows no signs of weakening. There is news today of huge redundancies and cuts in production in Chile which will only fuel an even stronger demand from the US. Couple this with Russia partially relaxing its ban on European farmed salmon imports and we have a classic supply and demand curve dictating price levels. Forward contract prices have disappeared which indicates prices have further to go and any currency volatility with Norwegian Nok against the Dollar, Sterling or the Euro will complicate matters even further.

If that wasn’t enough buying organic particularly Irish organic is not going to be without its challenges. The two principal organic producers in Ireland, Clare Island and Glenarm, are not taking on any new business. Clare Island will be short of stock from now until sometime in March and Glenarm are going into a fallow period when they will have little if any stock available. That means if you rely on organic for your business, "buyers beware”.

First Electric Vehicle
We don’t run a large fleet of vans or trucks but rely on couriers and haulage contractors for a large part of our distribution requirements. Even so, with falling fuel prices we still feel committed to making some sort of impact on our carbon footprint and our first electric van (Renault Kangoo) has been purchased. The long-term view is that if this can stand up to the rigours of a severe testing perhaps this is an option we should be exploring to satisfy our London deliveries. The important role of testing the vehicle has been given to Horace, Richard’s father, who oversees most of the maintenance work on site and the land surrounding the factory. Giving Horace the keys is a bit like giving BBC Top Gear driver The Stig the keys to the reasonable priced car. Horace has no truck with gadgets or technology, doesn’t use sat nav and has his mobile phone turned off to save the battery. As his preferred mode of transport is his much loved Ford ‘T’ Tractor he was keen to know if the vehicle had any off road capabilities, so watch this space for a van update next month.

It’s exactly a year ago that flooding hit the M4 corridor and the government in Westminster finally heeded the woes of those who had been flooded since before Christmas down on the Somerset levels. This year of course it’s the turn of the North of England and Scotland to get a battering. Below is a picture of Walmore Common, a large natural flood plan that lies directly behind our factory. This acts as a natural release valve and naturally floods when the Severn River over fills and is a perfect example of how we should learn to live with water rather than trying to tame it. It’s partly due to the fact that it is an ‘area of special scientific interest’ that no development has taken place on this land. Flood plains are not the places for planners to start relaxing regulations and grant planning permissions for much needed housing, it’s time for some imagination and thinking outside the box.

A flooded Walmore Common

The Shop, Restaurant, Café new build next door is starting to really take shape and we hope completion will be sometime in June. It was good to see Kerry girl & Tink return to help in the shop, and their experience over the pre-Christmas rush was really invaluable. Greg has done a lot of work improving the stock and presentation on the counters which makes such a difference to the overall shopping experience and also an excellent place for customer feedback on some of our new product development ideas.

On our zero carbon footprint strategy, the water recycling lagoon system is also very near completion, and hope will be operational within the next couple of months. Elver season starts next month and if we see this flood water receding signs from France indicate this will be another season of recovery.

More news soon.