Olsen Fish Co. swallows up lutefisk competitor

July 28, 2015

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Olsen Fish Co. has bought Mike's Fish & Seafood, a move that will boost Olsen's lutefisk sales to levels the company hasn't seen in 20 years, the company's CEO said Friday.

Despite reports that the deal will make Olsen Fish the world's largest lutefisk purveyor, CEO Chris Dorff is reluctant to brag about it (he fears the headlines that may surface in Sweden). But he said the company has held the North American title for years.

Dorff said Olsen decided to go forward with the purchase in part because the deal will help bolster sales that consistently slip every year. Lutefisk is a traditional Scandinavian meal of lye-soaked cod.

"Business slides a little each year," Dorff said. By purchasing Mike's, Dorff said the Olsen's is "turning back the clock" on sales levels 20 years.

The decision also made sense in terms of eliminating competition, he said. Dorff, however, said that experience was bittersweet. Owner Mike Fields, who billed himself on his company's web site as "an Irishman hawking lutefisk right under Minnesota Scandinavian noses," passed away from cancer. Dorff said he'd attempted to set up meetings with Mike's about a purchase a couple times.

Olsen has bought two other lutefisk producers looking to leave the business in the last 25 years, Dorff said.

Dorff said Mike's lutefisk recipes will remain the same, but that Olsen's Fish has the resources to better distribute the product.

Olsen Fish Co. is based in Minneapolis; Mike's Fish & Seafood is based in Glenwood.