Nothing fishy about this healthy fish oil
Noble Harvest produces natural Norwegian products for nutrition and good health
Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
When our editorial team decided that we would publish a Health & Wellness issue this February, my thoughts turned immediately to an old friend in Norway.
Petter Tidemand-Johannessen has been working with fish for most of his life, and today he runs Noble Harvest A/S (www.nobleharvest.no), a family-owned company that delivers raw materials and fish oils for supplements and food ingredients. Working together with his son Sindre, Tidemand-Johannessen works exclusively with the Norwegian aquaculture and fishery industry to create products that are shipped worldwide—all with an eye on good health.
I first met Tidemand-Johannessen in the late 1970s at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I was studying Scandinavian languages and he was working on his degree at the fisheries department. After graduating, he returned home to start his career, first at a research station for aquaculture on the west coast. At the time, the U.W. was one of the leading pioneers in fish farming, an industry that was expanding in Norway as well.
With his skills and experience as a fisheries biologist, Tidemand-Johannessen had a career in fisheries for the next two decades. He landed a position at the prestigious Institute of Aquaculture in Ås before joining a new company expanding Norwegian aquaculture technology worldwide, to Iceland, Tasmania, Chile, British Columbia, and Bermuda. Eventually, he joined a colleague as part owner in a company that supplied the aquaculture industry in Chile, and he helped build up other companies for fisheries in northern Norway. Life was going swimmingly.
A new chapter
But then in 1998, life took an unexpected turn when Tidemand-Johannessen’s father died without warning. His father had always been an energetic, positive force in the lives of everyone around him, and his death was a profound loss. It became a catalyst for change for his son, who decided his own life needed to take a new direction.
Tidemand-Johannessen founded Polarol (www.polarol.no), specializing in high-quality omega-3 fish oil. The company was based in Drøbak, and a retail store was opened not far from the famous Julehus Christmas shop. With time, it became a destination for customers from the surrounding area and all over Norway.
Polarol evolved parallel to work on a project that was looking at new uses for fish byproducts, and there were synergies between the two. At the same time, Tidemand-Johannessen became more focused on how he could put his knowledge to work for better health. When a good friend’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, he knew he had a new mission: he wanted to help others improve their quality of life.
The cancer patient’s outlook was not good, and Tidemand-Johannessen began to research the uses of a substance found in deep-water fish that had shown potential as a cancer-fighting drug at John Hopkins University. The fisheries expert began to consult with medical doctors before creating a natural product that would be distributed to thousands of cancer patients.
For the entrepreneur, Polarol was never about money; it was about people. Over the years, Tidemand-Johannessen worked with many customers on a one-on-one basis, as there is no one-size-fits-all supplement regime. He began to freeze-dry blueberries and rosehips to create high-quality antioxidant supplements. The demand was high. When he turned 50, in lieu of birthday presents, he asked his friends to go out and pick rosehips, so he could stock his warehouse to make sure he wouldn’t run out of product.
Into the future
In 2017, Tidemand-Johannessen sold Polarol to move on to his next adventure, Noble Harvest A/S. The company has its genesis in request for omega-3 salmon oil, when he came into contact with the Berg family, owners of Nordlaks, the largest fish farming company in northern Norway. At Nordlaks, he found one of the most innovative companies in the country, and a perfect partnership was forged.
At Nordlaks, state-of-the-art technology and practices are in place to create the purest fish products possible. The fish are fed with pure, non-GMO raw materials, and the company is testing out the use of insect proteins as opposed to imported soy from Brazil. Their goal is to create pure sustainable food products, and the company has a very low carbon footprint and the goal is to be CO2 neutral within three to five years.
Noble Harvest produces not only omega-3 salmon oil that can be used for dietary supplementation but also groundbreaking products for the food industry. Tidemand-Johannessen has now put his full focus on getting healthier oil into our food.
The omega-3 salmon oil he produces is very clean and contains no pesticides, with clear health benefits. Similar to canola oil, it can be used in cooking and as an ingredient for products including mayonnaise, fishcakes, fish pudding, and liver pâté. Noble Harvest’s oils have a neutral taste similar to plant-based oils, and Tidemand-Johannessen tells me he even baked a carrot cake with the oil at home—with delicious results.
Noble Harvest is a rapidly expanding B2B enterprise, with ownership of two brand-name fish oils, SALfresh® and NordicSilver®. In the United States, the company recently conducted a pilot program with Walmart, and orders are coming in from customers all over the world. But one thing is certain: the company will continue to keep its production in Norway. It’s not simply because they are Norwegian, it is because of the high quality of Norwegian fish and fish oil, with the most stringent rules governing processing and sustainability.
At age 62, Tidemand-Johannessen is the picture of health, still the same weight as back in our old U.W. days. He and his wife, Ingrid, are the parents of two grown sons and a daughter. Ingrid, a successful landscape architect, is also an excellent cook. She is a member of a vegetable co-op, and together the couple takes a sensible approach to nutrition. Most meals are cooked at home with pure, fresh ingredients, and the couple eats salmon and other fish at least three times a week. Occasionally, Petter indulges in a good steak, and of course, the family still enjoys a good serving of juicy ribbe at Christmastime.
“You cannot take your health for granted,” says Petter. He notes that Norway is seeing the same negative dietary trends and rising obesity curve as the rest of the Western world, where industrially produced foods are making people sick. “You are what you eat,” he adds.
I’m looking forward to visiting the Tidemand-Johannessen family in Norway, not only to talk about old times and enjoy a delicious dinner, but also to talk about the exciting future that companies like Noble Harvest offer. And when I go through Gardermoen Oslo Airport, I’ll stop at the Salmon House there. Not only can I enjoy a tasty nibble of Atlantic salmon, I can pick up some premier quality fish oil produced by Noble Harvest and marketed and sold under the brand name Norwegian Premium by Petter Tidemand-Johannessen, simply a must-have for an old friend from the United States.
Lori Ann Reinhall is a multilingual journalist and community activist based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association and state representative for Sister Cities International, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.
This article originally appeared in the February 22, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.