35-year-old Kjell Olav Rugset is the mastermind behind the MS Donna brand. Known throughout Scandanavia – and soon the world – as the premier supplier of high-quality king crab, this dedicated entrepreneur has revolutionised the purchasing and consumption of these delicious, hard-shelled crustaceans.
Focusing on a circular approach to the business, and working as sustainably as possible, Kjell has built the world’s smallest full-scale production facility for raw king crab in Norway. Working with like-minded partners, MS Donna aims to create a responsible supply chain that includes good working conditions, fair employment practices, economic growth, innovation and climate protection.
“Having the UN’s sustainability goals as guidelines with numbers 12, 8, 9 and 13 in our statutes, MS Donna is trying to make a difference with better sustainability. Supported and in collaboration with many others alike. As members of NoWaste! and NO17, we are working with some of the best institutions and people in their fields, going from a linear to a circular economy. I have the privilege to speak highly of diversity and decent working conditions as an ambassador for JobbAsker, of which MS Donna is also a proud partner,” says Kjell Olav Rugset, MS Donna’s Founder.
Now a successful and inspirational company, MS Donna’s history dates back to the maiden voyage of the M/S Donna ship in early 2010, which began deep in the Varanger fjord, in Nesseby/Unjárga, Finnmark. After brief stops at Vardø and Mehamn, Kjell and his crew landed at North Cape, opting to reside here and become true fishermen. This was, of course, with much help from the local, very experienced fishermen that already lived there. Together, they fished for cod, pollock, haddock and king crab on M/S Donna and, at a later stage, also on M/S Dunderdonna in the Porsanger fjord. During this time, Kjell and the crew also worked at various seafood factories before their fishing business ended in 2014.
Upon his return, after learning that half of the king crab that they fished was considered waste and thrown back into the ocean, he knew that change was needed. He had faith that there was great potential in the industry, and that there was certainly a better way of using all that the mighty king crab has to offer. This is where Kjell’s idea to create a more sustainable and circular king crab supply came into fruition.
“In 2016, I decided to bring MS Donna back to life with all the good things, except fishing – this time out from Oslo. Since then, we have delivered premium products to some of the world’s best restaurants,” adds Kjell.
The restaurants that MS Donna supplies include 2-Michelin-starred Alchemist, 3-Michelin-starred Frantzén, Michelin-starred Palace Helsinki, Michelin-starred Omakase by Vladimir Pak and Restaurant Rest, among others. Products that MS Donna sells include king crab lower legs, top sections, claws, split legs and locally -made stock. From oven baking to grilling and frying, these prime crab cuts are perfect for any cooking – find some recipe inspiration here
Images 1, 2 & 5 courtesy MS Donna; Image 3 © Søren Gammelmark; Image 4 © Britannia Hotel, Speilsalen.