Premium quality assured

Championing the produce that originates from Norway’s Jæren region, Prima Gruppen has established itself as the country’s premier producer and supplier of quality meat products

At approximately 700 square kilometres in size, Jæren is the largest flat lowland area in Norway, and includes the whole Stavanger Peninsula and the mainland area at its base. It is also one of PG 137 bNorway’s most important agricultural areas, boasting a long crop period, and a varied and well-developed livestock production industry. It is the Jæren region that is also the source of the various meat products that have helped bring considerable success to numerous companies over the years.

One such company is Prima Gruppen. “The Group was founded in 1993, however arguably the most important strategic development came about in 2000,” begins Anbjørn Øglend, the Group’s Chairman and CEO. “It was at this time that locally and regionally farmed produce gained in importance as consumers led a call for greater quality products to be made available in the Norwegian marketplace. Together with our own producers and customers, we created a regional, value-based production chain that we named Jæren Smak, which essentially means ‘the taste of Jæren’.

“Building on these efforts, in 2007 we opened the first new, state-of-the-art, slaughterhouse in Norway for 20 years. Having historically been a supplier of processed meat products for medium-sized private industry companies, it was in 2009 that we took the decision to enter into the distribution of packed retail meat products, the same year that we signed a major contract with NorgesGruppen to act as its supplier of premium meat goods. Then, in 2013, we secured an agreement with Nortura, the Norwegian Meat Producers Cooperative, to coordinate all slaughtering activities in the southwest of Norway. This agreement, valued at more than 50 million euros, has since made it possible for Prima Gruppen to establish further growth in other parts of the value chain.”

While approximately 70 per cent of the Group’s sales continue to come from the production of meat for medium-sized meat processing customers, the aforementioned growth in other areas has seen it expand into direct deliveries of premium goods to the grocery sector, open its own farm and breeding facility that specialises in Angus cattle, and establish a growing HoReCa segment.

“Our mission, which encompasses all of our activities, is to serve our Norwegian customers with the very best of products from the Jæren region,” Anbjørn continues. “Our work in ensuring the highest standards of quality are maintained begins with our relationship with our farmers. Through our Jæren Smak programme we are able to ensure that each individual product meets the required standards for slaughter weight, transport length and storage conditions, while our meat cutting procedures include a defined process methodology and strict controls in order to maintain optimum quality throughout.”

Innovative culture
Over the course of the last ten years, Prima Gruppen’s success has helped it to become a major agent of change within the Norwegian meat industry. One of the secrets behind this is that, even as it has grown in size and stature, the Group has maintained its entrepreneurial culture and its willingness to test and implement new solutions. “We continue to challenge traditional work patterns, and seek profitable improvement wherever we find it,” Anbjørn enthuses.PG 137 c

Prima Protein
A perfect example of this ethos can be seen in the Group’s decision to move forward with its investment in a new division, named Prima Protein, which will establish the Group’s presence within the seafood sector. “As a business, we strongly believe in the future of Norwegian seafood, and it is for this reason that we have been examining ways to get a foothold in this particular industry,” Anbjørn states. “We are currently in the process of building a brand-new fish protein factory at a cost of 35 million euros, which we anticipate being completed by the end of 2018, before it starts receiving its first pelagic fishing boats in January 2019.”

Initially, the factory will supply fishmeal to fish producers, however Anbjørn does have ambitions to progress higher up the food chain, believing as he does that in the future there will be a market for supplying higher numbers of pelagic fish products to people. “While investing in seafood protein products is very much a change in direction for the Group, it cannot be forgotten just how important the seafood sector is to Norway’s economy,” he says. “Whereas the Norwegian meat industry, with its protective tariffs, is very much a national marketplace, the seafood industry is one with huge international growth potential that we feel it is important to be a part of. Collectively, we are confident that the experience we have gained in the meat industry can be used to good effect in the seafood arena, and conversely that the knowledge we go on to acquire through the activities of Prima Protein will ultimately help inspire developments in our traditional field of expertise.”

Game changer
Turning back to the present day, and what the Group hopes to achieve during the course of 2018, Anbjørn has a strong vision for what it needs to do. “Basically,” he sets out, “we will look to do more of the things that have helped us to be successful in recent years. This means bringing in further efficiency programmes throughout out operations, strengthening our position as a ‘game changer’ in the industry, boosting our presence in the premium meat segment, and achieving continuous improvement in how we cooperate with both our partners and our customers.

“I am also eager to further the progress we are making with our Angus cattle programme, which I believe has enormous long-term potential, particularly as Norwegian customers become ever-more demanding when it comes to quality. When combined with all of our other efforts, this will only advance our standing as a premier operator that is able to create profitable, long-lasting change.”