Sunnmørsmat: From Norway to Zanzibar – feeding people and cleaning beaches one egg at a time
By Alyssa Nilsen | Photos: Håkon Longva Haram / Valento Media AS
When then farmer Rune Haram and two colleagues founded the company Sunnmørsmat in 2013, they could not have envisioned the adventures that would lie ahead. Their plan: to create the perfect egg with a bright yellow yolk – appealing in colour and pleasant in taste.
With extensive backgrounds in egg production, the three colleagues knew that nutritious feed and quality of life are the keys to good products, the correct colour yoke and the perfect taste. “Animals, like humans, achieve better results when they lead good lives,” Haram says. “It really is that simple.”
By creating a local brand of eggs with a specially developed feed, Sunnmørsegg quickly gained renown in the local area. Through features in regional newspapers and being accepted into the largest grocery chains, the Sunnmørsegg label became a common sight in the area. Their particular design: a bright yellow carton with picturesque landscapes on the front, along with a purple field for their white-lettered logo.
“We hit a nerve,” Haram says. “Local produce and genuine products are popular at the moment. But we also knew that by letting people get to know and try the products, we could turn them into returning customers.”
This led to creative ways of getting the word out to the consumers. Haram, donning a bright yellow and purple jacket and a cowboy hat, cemented the visual appearance of the brand through appearances on national and regional TV. Still, letting people taste their products was the most crucial part of their PR. Their efforts have resulted in five egg producers currently being involved in the brand and a presence in nearly all regional shops. The success also led to requests from hotels, restaurants and canteens, taking the brand further into the country.
Bringing Sunnmørsegg to Zanzibar
But the journey of Sunnmørsegg didn’t stop there. Having already established the product as ‘the egg with the brightest yellow yoke’, Haram, while sitting in his car in a parking lot, received a phone call from an unknown number. The man introduced himself and told Haram about Zanzibar, the African island in Tanzania’s archipelago – with a thriving tourist industry but also harsh poverty among the locals.
The man told Haram that locally produced eggs in Zanzibar had a bright white yoke. This was perceived as unappealing to the hotel guests and tourists, leading to the hotels often importing eggs from mainland Tanganyika, South Africa or even Europe to meet the demand. “He asked me if I wanted to join him on an adventure in Zanzibar, and I said yes instantly,” Haram laughs. “I don’t think he was expecting that, but there’s only so many times you’re offered that kind of adventure in your lifetime.”
Six months later, Haram travelled on a research trip to Zanzibar, tried the white-yoke eggs and had to admit that they were indeed not very appealing. They visited villages and looked at the local egg production. What followed was two years of planning, leading to a collaboration with The Royal Norwegian Society for Development, which has carried out aid work in Africa for over 40 years. Together, they mapped the demand and interest in Zanzibar, prepared applications and paperwork and built a detailed business plan. Their vision was to build farms, run training and mentoring programs, hire local women and youths to work there, and bring nutritious eggs to the local area and its tourists.
In 2019, they bought a plot of land in Bwejuu and finally started building their first farm. Currently, they have five hen houses up and running. “As of today, we have approximately 7,500 egg-producing hens,” Haram says, “but we’re currently buying more. In a couple of months, the number will be 10,000. Then the gated farm will be fully functioning with 19 employees and contain administration offices, guards and staff housing.”
Sustainable aid for the local community
Ideally, Sunnmørsegg would also build smaller-scale farms for locals, but there is a difficult road with many roadblocks ahead. In the meantime, they’re looking for other ways to help the locals. One such way appeared on its own when a local woman came by asking for help to feed her family. She was offered the opportunity to buy eggs at a low price, which she could then boil, dip in salt, and sell to locals. Soon, the lady was regularly returning for more eggs, for which she paid in cash. This had become her way of feeding her family and equalled a full day of standard pay. Today, 11 women and youths regularly buy eggs to boil and sell in the local village, creating their own sustainable careers.
Sunnmørsegg’s Zanzibar adventures have gained recognition both nationally and internationally. Last year, Haram received a phone call from the organisation Plastfritt Hav (which means ‘plastic-free ocean’), dedicated to cleaning the beaches of Sunnmøre and removing plastic from the ocean. The woman on the phone asked about the state of the beaches in Zanzibar, requesting a collaboration between Sunnmørsegg and Plastfritt Hav. This resulted in 550 students and pupils cleaning the beaches of Zanzibar’s villages last summer. To process the plastic, Sunnmørsegg is collaborating with Plastfritt Hav, Sea2energy and Innovasjon Norge to potentially build a plant that can turn plastic into clean water and energy.
To help fund the beach cleaning project, Sunnmørsegg sells eggs to commercial kitchens in Norway, and a cut of the profits goes straight to the Zanzibar sustainability project. This, in turn, led to Haram getting in touch with sustainable coastal cruise company Havila Kystruten, travelling the Norwegian coastline with reduced emissions and offering local delicacies along the way. They were eager to join the project, serving Sunnmørsegg eggs aboard their four ships.
A Zanzibar chef school is also in the works, aiming to educate and certify local chefs who can then benefit from the tourism and hotel industry.
And Sunnmørsegg continues to make local lives better, one egg at a time.
Statement from Havila Kystruten: Food and beverage manager at Havila Kystruten, Ole Christian Sivertstøl, says he had Sunnmørsegg on his wish list for Havila Kystruten right from the start: “The eggs taste better, and we are making an effort for others and the sea. This is both a sustainable and a win-win situation. Our guests receive tasty food, and we help clean the beaches in Sunnmøre, create work in Zanzibar and remove plastic from the beaches there, too.” To read more about Sunnmørsmat’s projects, visit: Web: www.sunnmorsmat.no Facebook: sunnmorsegg Visit Havila Kystruten at: www.havilavoyages.com Visit Zanegg Chef School at: Facebook: Zanegg Chef School
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