The High North Tour 2021: Have Invested NOK 200 Million in New, Modern Factory

Norwegians eat 140,000 of these iconic fish ball tin cans from Vesteraalens every month. Production has been almost uninterrupted since 1912, though nor this time did we manage to convince CEO Viktor Johnsen to share the receipt with us. (Photo: Arne O. Holm)
Sortland: Backed by local owners, Vesteraalens has in recent years invested more than NOK 200 million in a state-of-the-art factory. New production lines and new products are in place, though the iconic fish balls are still a vital part of production.

High North News visits Vesteraalens AS in Sortland only a fortnight after its last production line for fish filets has been built and put to use. CEO Viktor Johnsen can boast a factory with state-of-the-art technology in use. Vesteraalens operates all over the world.

14 nations

That is also reflected in its Sortland staff.

“We employ a total of 60 people from 14 different nations. Many of those working here hold a master’s degree or PhD. Our management team has six or seven nationalities represented. That is due to our being so international. All the [fish] oil we produce is exported”, says Viktor Johnsen.

There is a global market for the fish oil products as well as the filets. The USA is by far the largest market for oil. Americans are not known for eating a lot of fish, and they compensate through using refined fish oil ready to drink. Much of it also goes to Europe, and some of it to China.

However, the famous fish balls, which have been produced almost uninterrupted in Sortland since 1912, mostly go to the Norwegian market.

No e-numbers

“Due to poor weather, we lack raw materials to cover a need of 140,000 fish ball tin cans ever month. This is pure, local North Norwegian raw material. Our fish balls contain no e-numbers and are a genuinely natural product”, Viktor Johnsen explains.

Join High North News on a most exclusive visit to the Sortland factory, probably one of Norway’s most modern fish production plants.

Follow the High North Tour 2021

This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.