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Atlantic cod

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The Atlantic cod is appreciated worldwide for its juicy and white flesh, the mild umami flavour and its versatility in the kitchen

The Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is one of the most well-known fish around the world and is appreciated for its great flavour, firm meat and intense umami flavour. The meat from the Atlantic cod around Greenland has time to fully develop the intense and slightly sweet flavour, because the cold and clean surroundings make the cod grow more slowly than elsewhere.

Atlantic cod products

Royal Greenland's Atlantic cod is available in various cuts, and the fish is either sold whole or cut into fillets, with or without skin and bones. Alternatively, the fish is divided into loins with or without skin, and portions without skin. The Atlantic cod is also available as convenient ready meals for which it is e.g. breaded, battered or marinated.

Atlantic cod in the sea

The Atlantic cod lives mainly in the North Atlantic Sea and the Barents Sea. It is easily recognisable by the characteristic beard on the jaw and the beautifully speckled skin that changes colour, depending on the bottom conditions in its living area. It typically lives near the bottom at depths of between 50 and 200 metres and has a strong preference for cold water at around 2-10°C. The cod is not a picky eater and around Greenland it mainly preys on Capelin and cold-water prawns. It is even known to eat smaller members of its own species, making it a true omnivore.

The Atlantic cod reaches sexual maturity when it is between two and four years old, but due to its cold surroundings, the cod can be up to eight years old before it is ready to spawn. There are four different stocks of cod in the Atlantic sea and each stock travels back to its original breeding ground for spawning. The spawning period is during late winter to spring, when the water temperature is around 1 to 8°C.

The cod stock in the northeast Arctic Sea is assessed to be growing and is being harvested at a sustainable level. In 2015, the stock in the Barents Sea, including the by-catch of saithe and haddock, was certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Fishery

Fishing for Atlantic cod can be classed as inshore and offshore fisheries. Inshore, the Atlantic cod is caught primarily with pound nets, which several local fishermen use to round up the net, trapping the cod inside. The catch is then hauled on board, where the fish are gutted before they are delivered to Royal Greenland's factories. 

The offshore fishing for Atlantic cod uses trawl. The trawl consists of a large net that is dragged across the seabed to catch the fish, which is often taken in mixed catches with other species. To minimise unwanted waste from fishing, Royal Greenland processes the entire catch. In addition, Royal Greenland supports the research and development of trawling methods that are less invasive for the seabed environment and also reduce fuel consumption, ensuring minimum disturbance of the ecosystem. 

For our premium quality product, the Nutaaq™ Cod, fishing takes place with pound nets. When the fishermen have full nets, they send their coordinates to the Royal Greenland well-boat, which takes the live fish on board in specially designed wells below deck. Here, the fish is stored in tanks with fresh, circulated sea water. When the well-boat is full, it sets the fish free in large sea water ponds, where the Atlantic cod is stored until processing. 

Processing

When the Atlantic cod has been caught, it can be processed either at sea or in a land-based production facility. At sea, the trawler Sisimiut processes the fish as fillets with or without skin and bone. The fillets are frozen within four to six hours after catch, ensuring optimum freshness and high quality.

Our land-based production relies on a close cooperation with the local fishermen in Greenland. To ensure the absolute best quality, it is essential that the processing takes place as soon as possible and at the latest 24 hours after catch. Because of this, the fishermen deliver the Atlantic cod to Royal Greenland's factories on a daily basis and a best practice for handling cod has been made to ensure the optimal gutting, bleeding and icing of the fish.

Once in the factories, the fish is fileted with or without skin and with or without bone before it is packed and quick-frozen. In China the fillets can be cut into loins, tails and portions where they are either shipped for further process in Koszalin, Poland or sold. Finally a production in Greenland handles salted cod, which is sold directly to Spain and Iceland.

The processing of Royal Greenland's Nutaaq™cod is different to ensure the very best quality. At the Nutaaq™ factory, the cod literally swims into the, where it is slaughtered, bled and filleted within 2 hours from leaving the water. The customized processing of the Nutaaq™cod ensures a fresher, brighter and tastier product.

Read more about our Nutaaq™ cod here

Route to market

From production, the finished products are shipped directly to the markets from e.g. Greenland or Poland. Royal Greenland has seen a rise in demand for cod in recent years. Consumers in the UK and the USA are especially fond of Atlantic cod, followed by Spain, Portugal and Sweden. 

Atlantic cod in the kitchen

The Atlantic cod is probably the best-known fish in the world and has been popular since the Middle Ages. It is a family favourite across the world due to its versatility in terms of cooking methods, as well as its delicate flavour. The Atlantic cod has an almost ideal distribution of fat, proteins and calories, is high in selenium, vitamin B12 and B6, and has a touch of omega-3 fatty acids.

The Atlantic cod develops a rich and complex flavour due to the slow growth in the cold surroundings. This gives a firm texture to the meat and a beautiful white appearance both cooked and raw. The meat separates into large, juicy flakes and has a slightly sweet taste. The mild flavour makes cod ideal for creamy sauces or as a good opponent in more spicy dishes.

 

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