You have an outdated browser

Please update your browser

Update browser

#4: Welcome to Ilulissat

The shrimp processing factory in Ilulissat, Greenland is the beating heart of Royal Greenland. This is where the fresh, red shrimp from the Disko Bay area is landed, gently processed and dispatched to the world.

Royal Greenland's factory is the first building we see when entering the harbour from the sea side. And due to the favourable fishing conditions, seafood has been traded here since the 1920s. The current factory was built in 1961 and has been renovated several times, most recently in 2022/23. Today, it is one of the largest shrimp factories in the world.

The factory contains a highly certified, state-of-the-art shrimp peeling and processing facility that annually delivers 4.500 tons of cooked and peeled shrimp to the world market. In addition, the facility processes 2,000 tons of Greenland halibut per year, as well as a mix of cod, catfish and capelin.

Meet the people

Factory Manager Stefán Tryggvason welcomes us to Ilulissat and the factory where he and his team of approximately 120 people are engaged year-round.

"On this location we do up to 100 tons of shrimp and 25 tons of Greenland halibut per day plus what comes in of cod, catfish and capelin" he explains. 

“This location is what Royal Greenland is really all about – Ilulissat is close to the best shrimp fishing grounds in the world. Here, trawlers land fresh shrimp daily. The trawlers are only allowed to fish for 4 days to ensure the best possible freshness. It is then up to us to retain the freshness from catch to consumer” he explains “It is rather exciting and a great responsibility”.

"The shrimp factory is open year round, when the ice situation allows. Some years we risk some weeks of closure in February and March due to the boats not being able to enter".

A warm welcome to Ilulissat

Click and watch the video


The Royal Greenland factory is one of the largest workplaces in Ilulissat and the centre of landings of especially Greenland halibut and shrimp from local fishermen.

“We are pleased that we have a solid base of skilled, local employees who really understand the craft of handling this fine raw material. But it’s no secret that it’s hard to recruit labour, there are other good opportunities for the young people, so we have a group of foreign workers to support in the factory, and that is good for everyone”.

Inside the factory

During the fishing season shrimp is landed fresh almost every day of the week, and cooked, peeled, quick frozen, sorted and packed in a continuous flow. This fresh flow secures the highest quality and freshest flavor of the shrimp. 

From September to May the factory also processes industry frozen shrimp from the trawlers. This double frozen quality is very consistent and tasty. Moreover, the year-round production ensures good workplaces for our employees.

Commitment and high standards

Pamela Ignacio Reyes works as Quality Control Manager in the factory.

"Some may claim our location is a remote place, but rest assured that this manufacturing facility upholds the highest levels of standards". Pamela elaborates, "Since we serve such large customers in demanding industries, delivering consistently high-quality products should be our ultimate priority. As a testimony to this commitment, we are BRC A+ certified for shrimp, A++ for the shell meal, and MSC certified. Rest assured that we continuously deliver the highest possible standard of quality", Pamela smiles.

"I must say that achieving great things requires concerted collaboration from all stakeholders, and I'm proud to have been instrumental in our team's achievements".

"I must say that achieving great things requires concerted collaboration from all stakeholders, and I'm proud to have been instrumental in our team's achievements".

"I must say that achieving great things requires concerted collaboration from all stakeholders, and I'm proud to have been instrumental in our team's achievements".

"Working with this unusual raw material is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Like a well-oiled machine, our leaders, colleagues, and the rest of the workforce operate capably through effective coordination, which impacts the plant's productivity and quality. Moreover, we also communicate closely with the fishing boats and are aware of their catches and arrival times. The only way to plan the production in advance is by constantly evaluating the strategy. We cook and peel the same volume every hour, so if we have fewer shrimp, we work shorter days". 

In 2018, a new sorting system was installed where the shrimp can be sorted into up to six size specifications, allowing for a highly consistent product to be produced when customers want it.

Shrimp on the plate

Our Greenlandic shrimp is appreciated across the world for the versatile use in both traditional and modern cuisine. From the ever-popular shrimp cocktail to more modern salads and poke bowls.

Focus on waste

When peeling the shrimp, the meat is separated from the shell and head. Instead of discarding this mineral-rich material, it is processed into shell-meal in a dedicated factory. The peels are heated, dried and milled to a fine meal that can be used in other industries as a flavouring or colouring agent.

Shrimp shell-meal

The processing is done in a dedicated facility next to the peeling factory.

More sidestream products are being investigated, for example research is ongoing on how to extract minerals and nutrients from the cooking water.

About the Meet Royal Greenland series

About the Meet Royal Greenland series

In this series of articles, we invite you on a tour of the Royal Greenland organization; from the small factories along the coast of West Greenland to our large seagoing production trawlers to our sales offices around the world and many more. Welcome to Meet Royal Greenland! 

Read the third article about our UK team here

See also