We talked to Orri Björnsson of Algalíf about the production of high quality sustainable natural astaxanthin from microalgae, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Orri Björnsson: The Covid-19 situation in Iceland, where I live and work, is relatively good compared to most other countries.
There have not been any new cases for the past few days, schools and offices are open, and we are doing relatively well compared with many other places.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Algalíf.
Orri Björnsson: I´m an Icelandic national, born and raised in Iceland´s Capital area. I have over twenty years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and microalgae industries. Among other things, I was a consultant on international pharmaceutical development projects to the United Nations, managed various international programs for the pharmaceutical companies Actavis and Balkanpharma, and have been CEO of Algalíf Iceland since 2013.
How does Algalíf innovate?
Orri Björnsson: Since its foundation in 2012, Algalif has gained status as an industry leader in the production of high quality sustainable natural astaxanthin from microalgae. This is due to superb production quality and delivery security, along with extensive industry knowledge of the management team, highly successful quality system, and competitive cost structure. This resulted in 2020 being the best year in the company’s history. All our production this year and most of next year’s astaxanthin production is sold.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Orri Björnsson: We have about 40 employees now, and during the pandemic, we have taken all required measures such as separating work areas, using masks and hand sanitizers, and such. However, the pandemic has not had any negative effects on our production.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Orri Björnsson: No, thank god. We did not have to make any difficult choices because of the pandemic.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Orri Björnsson: The company’s dedication for all-around sustainability has led to Algalif being renowned for exceptionally clean, high-quality astaxanthin biomass. With its location in Iceland, Algalif has access to an abundance of clean natural water, and all operations are powered by 100% green geothermal energy. We navigate the crisis by getting even better at what we do in regard to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Orri Björnsson: Algalif Iceland has announced its 30 million US$ expansion plan for its sustainable astaxanthin production facilities in Iceland. This is one of the biggest foreign investment projects in Iceland for a while. Construction will begin early next year. Production will more than triple, from over 1.500 kg to over 5.000 kg of astaxanthin annually. The company will thereby be the biggest astaxanthin producer in the world.
We will stay in the game by doing more of the same.
Your final thoughts
Orri Björnsson: My vision is to make microalgae a known source of as many ingredients as possible and at the same time to create profitable opportunities by understanding trends, technology, consumers, and players in the industry. We live by three keywords; quality, reliability, and sustainability. We already live by these words, and we are well on our way to become the biggest astaxanthin producer in the world. We will keep on being a reliable business partner who produces a high-quality product in a sustainable way. That’s how we roll!
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