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He had first visited Iceland to work with Björk, and he thought it would be a good place to recharge: “I was just ready to be on a cold volcanic island and chill out.” Instead, he wound up launching a company that applies his show-business expertise to Icelandic fish.
Luckett was sitting in a booth at Red Rooster Harlem, where he had been talking with the chef, Marcus Samuelsson, about bringing branded Icelandic seafood to Samuelsson’s restaurants in Scandinavia and, eventually, New York. “The food space is always looking for interrupters,” Samuelsson said.
Now that the Nordic climes have chilled him out, he hopes that Niceland will export not only Iceland’s fish but its values, which he said include humanism, interconnectedness (ninety per cent of the population is on Facebook), and an appreciation for nature. “I’m now understanding that there is a Community of Tomorrow,” he said, of his adopted home. “It’s my version of Epcot.”
After quickly growing its distribution of fresh, premium Icelandic seafood regionally, Niceland is looking to expand to retailers, wholesale companies, and restaurants across the United States at Seafood Expo North America 2019, taking place in Boston, Massachusetts from 17 to 19 March.
As a result, Chicago-based distributor Fortune Fish, and Florida- and Texas-based distributor Halperns’ Steak and Seafood came on board earlier this year. Niceland fish is now carried at Metcalfe’s Markets, Busch’s Markets, and through Peapod grocery delivery. It will soon launch in Truluck’s Steak and Seafood throughout the Midwest and Southeast United States.
Niceland’s “sea-to-pan” traceability tech allows consumers to follow the detailed journey of their fish. Using a scannable QR code, they can trace the timeline from the exact spot in the North Atlantic Ocean where the fish was caught to the name of the boat that reeled it in.
Millennial adventure seekers aren’t the only ones hitching a ride on all those direct flights between Denver and Reykjavik — a lot more fish are about to start flowing from Iceland to Colorado.
Niceland Seafood, a Reykjavik startup, is locating its U.S. headquarters in Denver, where it will team with the Seattle Fish Co. to distribute the morning’s catch from the cold waters of the North Atlantic to restaurants and stores throughout the region in under 24 hours… But a seafood company setting up shop in landlocked Colorado, which is 1,000 miles from the nearest big body of water? For Niceland, the reasons to put a home base a mile high for a business that sources its product at sea level were twofold: the transportation setup and Colorado’s culture.
Why this Hollywood tech mogul got into Icelandic seafood Company aims to provide QR code-traceable Icelandic cod, Arctic charr, redfish and haddock to US retailers.
“The idea of Niceland was born out of my appreciation of Iceland as a country,” he said. For him Icelandic values include a reverence for nature, sustainability, humanism and hyperconnectivity. He also points to Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute as a model of sustainability in the seafood world. It issues annual catch limitation quotas and makes sure up to 98 percent of the country’s catch is put to use.
It provides Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified cod, Arctic charr, redfish and haddock to retailers. The products are packaged with a unique QR code, which, once scanned, visualizes each individual journey from the fishing grounds to the store. “We’re trying to tell a narrative using technology,” Luckett said. This process is in some ways, similar to branding narratives he worked on for both celebrities and for Disney, he said.
DENVER – Iceland-based Niceland Seafood is opening its United States headquarters in Denver as the Mile High City attracts more international companies. Niceland will have offices in Colorado and operate through a partnership with Denver’s Seattle Fish Company. The Seattle Fish Company already processes about 15 million pounds of seafood from around the world, including Iceland.
Niceland is led by Disney’s former Head of Innovation, Oliver Luckett, and Icelandic politician Heiða Helgadóttir. From daily nonstop flights between Reykjavik and Denver, to a shared vision that began in part at a seafood show in Boston, the two companies formed a relationship that spans international waters.
“We’ve got a great workforce that we can pull from. And we’ve technically-savvy people,” said Seattle Fish Company President Derek Figueroa.
Oliver Luckett is the former Head of Innovation at the Walt Disney Company, and the founder and CEO of theAudience, a social media management company that’s worked with American Express, Pixar, Coachella, Obama for America and more.
Now, he can add sustainable seafood champion to his long list of accomplishments. Luckett has launched Niceland Seafood, the “first turn-key provider of fresh Icelandic fish to offer full traceability from sea to pan.