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What will it take to reach the Asian market?

A large and collective effort is required for the North Atlantic Sea Cucumber to reach the Asian market, says Davíð Freyr Jónsson in this interview.

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(Photo: Davíð Freyr Jónsson, Aurora Seafood CEO)

Iceland is one of the countries which harvesting and producing North Atlantic sea cucumbers. What are the challenges to improve the use of sea cucumber and how reach the Asian market for the Northern countries? Here you can read the insights of Davíð Freyr Jónsson, the founder and CEO of Aurora Seafoods.

What can Aurora Seafood bring to the HOLOSUSTAIN project?

"Aurora Seafood team has a vast experience with fishing, processing, and marketing sea cucumbers. Namely Kári Ólafsson who is the pioneer of the sea cucumber utilization in Iceland."

Why is International collaboration important to improve sea cucumber production and use? 

"In sea cucumber like any other developing industry it takes a collective effort to significantly improve.

Collaboration like the Holosustain project are important for advancements for all parties involved in research, fishing and marketing."

Is it important for you to work with research units in this kind of project?

"Our business and focus are on the day to day operation. We are specialists in different but specific aspects of the value chain. It is necessary for us to be able to work with qualified research units on the tests and programs we are working on to advance our operation."

What do you think about sea cucumber as a new marine resource?

"With economic development and ever-growing markets in the east sea cucumbers are becoming a trade good that we can truly utilize for the first time. The resource has been there but purchasing power was not able to cover the costs of production before. As well have markets for the species of Cucumaria frondosa been developed in the last two decades."

What are the challenges to improve sea cucumber harvesting and processing?

"Biggest challenges now in Iceland are how to manage these fisheries in economical and environmentally sustainable manner. In Iceland today we have too many ships fishing too little to be considered an economical operation. The processing has mostly been done in China since labor costs in the western world are high and processing labor intensive. By improving automation further processing will become viable."

Why is sea cucumber market development important for Northern countries (Iceland, Norway, Canada)? And how can we compete with the Asian market?

"Consumer habits are hard to change but luckily the Chinese consumers are not as conservative as many of the Europeans. The traditional sea cucumber products vary somewhat in shape and form, from our sea cucumbers in the west. Companies on the market in China have led the development for Cucumaria frondosa on the Chinese markets. China is a very large and segmented market. My opinion is that it would take a large and collective effort to have an impact on the markets in Asia. Having the Chinese as a middleman’s to the consumers has its benefits and flaws, until the companies and operations become larger and more market driven marketing victories are not easily made real. "