Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation Sold for (At Least) ISK 40 Billion

The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation, founded by Sigurður Kjartan Hilmarsson in 2006, is estimated to have been sold for a minimum of ISK 40 billion [$370 million; €323 million], Kjarninn reports. The company was sold at the beginning of last year to French dairy corporation Lactalis, but the sale price was kept confidential.

Sigurður shared the majority stake in his company, or 78%, with a handful of friends and relatives. The remaining 22% stake was held by the Swiss dairy company Emmi. Emmi sold its minority stake in the company to “profit significantly from this transaction in the financial year 2018.” In fact, according to its recently published financial reports for the first part of 2018, Emmi made a profit of $80.9 million [ISK 9.68 billion; €70.35 million] on the sale of its minority share in The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation, or $58.9 million [ISK 7.05 billion; €51.2 million] after taxes. Thus were journalists at Fréttablaðið able to make an educated estimate as to the final total sales price of The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation.

In the run-up to the sale, it was estimated that in 2018, the sales revenue from Siggi’s Skyr, The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation’s marquee product, would come close to $200 million [ISK 22 billion; €173.9 million].

Waste Disposal Disrupted in Westman Islands

Waste disposal in the Westman Islands has been disrupted since December while the Heimaey town council awaits an environmental assessment report on the environmental impact of waste incineration, Vísir reports.

Council members expressed frustration with the delay with the environmental impact report, which they say will also delay the town’s plans for the construction of a new waste-to-energy plant.

The Heimaey town council is expected to announce updated rules on waste disposal on the island next week.

Whales a Huge Part of Iceland’s Marine Ecosystem, Say Researchers

iceland whale

Whales in Icelandic waters eat roughly six million tons of fish and other food sources a year and therefore play a large role in the marine ecosystem, both as a whole and in Iceland in particular, Vísir reports. This comes per a statement issued by Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Institute regarding a recent parliamentary resolution to re-evaluate Iceland’s whaling policy.

There has been a great deal of fluctuations with Iceland’s whale populations since the country began keeping official statistics on the stock in 1987. The number of fin whales increased from 10-15,000 to 30,000 in 2015, while the number of minke whales has been declining since 2000, going from around 40,000 minke whales to 10-15,000.

These figures, however, are not as up to date as they could be. “The statement references scientific articles from 1997,” remarked Gísli Arnór Víkingsson, a marine biologist at the Institute. Moreover, there is still a number of fairly big details that remain unknown about these mammals, such as exactly what each species is eating.

“There are twelve species [around Iceland] and we don’t know what most of them are eating,” continued Gísli. “Based on foreign studies, we can estimate that of these six million [tons], two million were different kinds of fish, about the same amount would be crustaceans and krill, and the rest would be squid and the like.”

Nevertheless, even though the data is incomplete, it still shows, researchers say, how prominent the role is that whales play in Iceland’s marine ecosystem.


Parents On Crossing Guard Duty After Teen Hit by Car

Reykjavík baby

Parents and school staff in the Vesturbær neighborhood on the west side of Reykjavík are on high alert after a thirteen-year-old was hit by a car while walking to school this week, RÚV reports. The same afternoon, city officials stationed a crossing guard at the accident site to make street crossings safer for schoolchildren, but just to be safe, neighborhood parents have also taken up an informal watch.

The victim, who luckily did not sustain any serious injuries during the event, was hit at the intersection of Hringbraut and Meistaravellir at 9.00am on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, neighborhood residents, such as Ólöf Jakobsdóttir and her husband and father, stationed themselves at different points along the busy street in the early morning hours. The new crossing guard is intended to be stationed at Hringbraut and Meistaravellir until the spring, but Ólöf says she intends to personally monitor traffic and pedestrians at her corner, Framnesvegur and Hringbraut, until they feel sure that local children will be safe.

Parents Take Up Watch

“[We’ll be here] for a while, at least,” Ólöf confirmed, “and we hope that [other] parents take some part in this, too. We’re going to do it, at least, me and my husband. My dad, a grandfather, is up for coming out and keeping watch there, too. Maybe until we see that it’s in place, this crossing guard patrol, that the city’s providing. Just until we feel safe about stopping.”

Ólöf also believes that the traffic lights at intersections along Hringbraut should be adjusted so that all traffic comes to a stop when the walk sign is green.

Margrét Einarsdóttir, the principal of Vesturbæjarskóli elementary school, also came out to monitor traffic along Hringbraut this morning. “Everything went well this morning and there was also a police officer on site…But of course this issue needs to be examined more closely – [traffic] speed, etc. And we’ve been doing that for a number of years – that’s not lacking.”

School Lacked Funding for Crossing Guard

Crossing guard duty in the area is actually under the purview of a school employee. But although the school had previously received requests for a crossing guard at Hringbraut and Meistaravellir, Margrét says that the city had not provided funding for this until the accident occurred on Wednesday. She says that local residents have been complaining about traffic conditions along Hringbraut for many years.

A working group led by the City of Reykjavík’s Environment and Planning Committee did in fact publish a report in January 2017 which proposed, among other things, that the speed of traffic west of Kringlumýrarbraut be lowered by 10 km/hr in two areas where the current speed limit is 50-60km/h (31-37mi/h). It was also suggested that pedestrian paths along streets where the speed limit is 40-50km/h (25-31mi/h), such as the section of Hringbraut where the child was hit, be raised and more clearly marked.

Police will hold a meeting with residents next week to discuss traffic along Hringbraut.