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Hraðfrystihúsið - Gunnvör Ltd.

Company Fact File:


Company address: Hnífsdalsbryggja

Tel.: +354 450 4600

Fax: +354 456 3624

Email: hg@frosti.is

Website: www.frosti.is


Number of employees: 150 full time

Directors:  Kristján Jóakimsson and Einar Valur Kristjánsson

Vessels:  One factory vessel and two trawlers

Species: Cod, haddock, catfish and recently mackerel

Company capital stock: NA

Last year turnover: 25 million euros


Mission Statement:

Hraðfrystihúsið’s main focus is its product quality.



Hraðfrystihúsið ltd. was established in 1941 by local fishermen in the village ofHnífsdalsbryggja. The factory initially aimed for the frozen fish and frozen bait market. In 1968, the company increased its services and established a fishing section as well as a processing plant. This enhanced its economic stability by diversifying its product line and reducing pressure in a single market. In addition to the processing expansion, the company enhanced its fishing fleet by purchasing newer and bigger vessels, all of which led to increased production. In 1996 and 1997 some families wanted to sell their shares in the business. Before conducting the sale, owners decided to increase production in order to improve the company’s value so that it would be eligible for registration on the stock exchange market. By 1998 the families succeeded in registering the company on the Icelandic stock market and hence the values of their shares increased. Two mergers are linked with this business move: the first one was in 1997 when the company merged with Frosti Ltd in Súðavik; and the second and most significant merger took place in 1999 with Gunnvör.  After the merger, the company was renamed Hraðfrystihúsid - Gunnvör Ltd. The company was on the stock exchange until 2004, when members of the families of Gunnvör bought back their stocks. The business is now back in the hands of the original owners and family members.



There are three main export markets: Southern Europe (the largest), the UK and Asia. The company predicts that the current markets will remain stable over the course of the near future. However, new market possibilities in Brazil are opening up and the company is already actively testing the waters on the Brazilian market. Current estimates show that there are about 30 to 40 million Brazilians that can afford, and are willing to buy, high quality, high-price bacalao (dried and salted cod).  In addition, there is also a traditional demand in Brazil for lightly-salted saithe (pollack). Hence, great potential is forecast for this developing market, especially if the Brazillian economy continues to boom. Other expansion possibilities include market growths in Spain and Portugal.



The company’s chief products are cod and haddock, in both fresh and frozen forms. Saithe, catfish, Greenland halibut and canned cod liver are also produced. The company is also involved in two methods of fish farming: capture-based mariculture and closed-cycle mariculture.  In capture-based mariculture the juveniles are captured in the wild and then placed in netpens. Closed-cycle mariculture implies that the cultivated fish are hatched in hatcheries and then are placed in netpens. The farmed cod is processed in the factory and it is mainly sold fresh.



The primary means of transportation is via truck to Reykjavík and by boat for international exports. However, fresh products are occasionally transported by air.


Research and development in mariculture:

Because of its involvement in closed-cycle mariculture, the company participates in a cod breeding programme.  The hatched cod are transferred to company-based closed pools at Nauteyri, where the juveniles are fed until they reach a mean weight of 100 grammes. They are then transferred to the open sea netpens in the surrounding fjords.


Quality control:

Hraðfrystihúsið incorporates an HACCP quality control system.


Fishing technology:

Hraðfrystihúsið owns two trawlers: a factory vessel and a wellboat. The factory vessel is a fish processing vessel, having the ability to process fish while at sea, and in so doing maintaining high quality fresh or frozen fish products. The wellboat is used to transfer live fish for aquaculture practices. This boat is the only one of its kind in Iceland and it is also used by other companies involved in aquaculture.


Yearly output:

 The company owns two trawlers that catch between 11 and 12 thousand tonnes of fish per year. Approximately half of that catch results in a final product. Main species are cod, haddock,Greenland hallibut, catfish, saithe and redfish.



The only cultivated species at the moment is cod. Contrary to capture-based systems, closed-cycle cultivated fisheries have no quota, as there is no stock depletion from the wild. The company catches around 200 tonnes on average for capture-based aquaculture, using extra quota bought from companies that are unable to fulfill their entire quota. The current quota is assigned until 2015. Uncertainty concerning future quota allocation means Hraðfrystihúsið is unable to predict quota renewal or production beyond 2015. Therefore, the closed-cycle farming serves as a reliable and steady business operation.



Hraðfrystihúsið operates two processing facilities – one in Ísafjörður and one in Súðavík. In addition, one of the vessels is a processing vessel which serves as an at-sea processing facility.



All new workers in the factory are welcomed with an introduction day. Following this they undergo one week of training, focusing on employment specialisation within the industry. The employees receive training that is bounded by law and labour regulation, and provided in co-operation between the company and labour unions. All fishermen must attend a safety training seminar within the first three months of working on the boats. At higher levels and in supervisory positions, the company at times offers computer and specialised technological training. Such courses are encouraged and fully paid by the company.


Working schedule:

The working hours have traditionally been from 07.00 to 15.00. However, due to the new mackerel market, extra shifts are being added.


The Icelandic market:

The domestic marketing for the company is managed by IT, which mainly repacks HG’s products and sells them directly to the supermarkets. There are three buyers in Reykjavík that purchase and repack HG’s products. Since the Icelandic market represents a relatively small portion of company sales, the company trademark is not promoted in the local market.



All of Hraðfrystihúsið’s facilities are owned by the company. The company also rents out some of their facilities to others in the fishing industry and in other industries.


Research and development:

Hraðfrystihúsið is actively researching the development of new fishing technology. HG co-operates with the Marine Research Institute (MRI) in Reykjavík. The MRI has a centre located in Ísafjörður, where they aim to develop new fishing technology, methods and gear.  The company invests in research on energy conservation techniques in order to save fuel expenditure while fishing. Hraðfrystihúsið also invests in seeking new fish stocks that can be utilised in Iceland.

Aquaculture and mariculture are also two sectors that the company invests and directly participates in. The investment is made for both closed-cycle and capture-based mariculture. HG is currently engaged in five research projects, collaborating with institutions such as Matis, Náttúrustofa Vestfjarða, and other fishing companies. The company supports the University Centre of the Wesfjords in Ísafjörður, but at the moment there is no research collaboration between the two.


Co-operation with other institutions and companies:

HG currently works in co-operation with some of the biggest companies in the area; as well as being involved in collaborating with a company in the raw material industry. They mainly deal professionally with Klofningur, a company that specialises in drying fish heads and processing fish bones. Other co-operation takes place with local fish farms and fishing services. 

Hraðfrystihúsið is a member of the Fish Processors’ Union, Fishing Vessel Owners’ Union, Association of Fish Farmers in Iceland and the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA).


Social Benefits:

 The company’s employees have their own association, which the management supports with financial contributions. The association policy states that the funding shall be used to fund company-related activities. The owners are primary sponsors of its employees’ association, and the company support its employees’ health and exercise by promoting healthy lifestyles, which is mainly promoted through the association.


HG actively invests every year, mainly through machinery upgrading.

Future growth:

The company’s growth is related to the annual quota system and its fluctuation directly reflects the company’s financial development. Therefore, more production capabilities do not necessarily mean greater revenues, due to the limited raw materials at hand.  For this reason, considerable attention has been given to mariculture.


“We have tried to split our activities into more than one market area; we tried to split the production into mainly three areas so the total outcome of the company is more stable. It is essential to have more feet to stand on, in case one area fails. Also, we think that it is very important to have control over our value chain so we get the maximum out of the quotas and the business.”