History and Milestones
LYSI Ltd. was established in 1938 by Tryggvi Olafsson and his brother Thordur, in response to a general need for vitamins A and D. From 1938 to 1950 LYSI exported a large share of its production to the Upjohn company in the USA, which extracted vitamins A and D from the oil. The production of winterised medicinal cod liver oil in consumer packaging began after 1959. Ever since, the Icelandic market has played an essential role as a benchmark, testing ground and research site for the company.
This was a new era in LYSI’s history, where sales rapidly expanded and research and new product development was stronger than ever. The company received both ISO 9001 and 22000 certification during this time. In 2005, LYSI inaugurated its new processing plant, which is uniquely equipped for the production of marine lipids, utilizing state-of-the-art technology at all stages of processing. Three years later a production unit for fish oil concentrates was added. In 2007 the factory was approved by the Icelandic Medicines Control Agency (IMCA) to be fully GMP (API) licensed. The company’s sales and marketing efforts over past decades received recognition in 2007 when LYSI won the President of Iceland’s Export Achievement Award. In spring 2012 yet another milestone was reached with an extension of the processing plant that doubled the company's output for fish oils.
In 1979 a scientific paper published by Dyerberg and Bang concluded that consumption of fish lipids reduced the risk of coronary diseases. This article had a huge impact and consequently cod liver oil was given a new lease on life. LYSI placed increasing emphasis on research and development, with the result that LYSI is today one of the leaders in know-how in the field of omega-3 and its utilisation. LYSI obtained HACCP certification of its quality control system in accordance with ISO 9002, as well as a GMP license for its packing department, being the world's first cod liver oil manufacturer to do so.
The market for cod liver oil continued to be depressed. Doctors had discovered that by raising the polyunsaturated fatty acids in diet, cholesterol levels in the blood could be lowered. Hence, they recommended vegetable oil instead of fish oils. Production of winterised medicinal cod liver oil in consumer packaging began. Around 1960, a laboratory was established and regular research into cod liver oil commenced. Ever since, the domestic market has played an important role as a benchmark, being an important testing ground and research area for the company.
The demand for cod liver oil was due to the need for vitamins A and D, which proved positive in countering rickets and night blindness. LYSI soon became the largest producer of cod liver oil in Iceland. Most of its production was exported to the USA, although during World War II there was an agreement in effect between the governments of Iceland and the UK that the latter would be allowed to purchase half of all production during the war. Demand for cod liver oil decreased considerably around 1950 and prices plummeted. The years between 1950 and 1980 proved to be a challenging time for the cod liver oil industry as a whole. Yet despite these adverse conditions, LYSI proved profitable during the period.
It all started with a telegram from E.C. Wise from the Upjohn Company in Michigan, USA in 1936. The telegram was to Tryggvi Olafsson, asking if any cod liver oil was available. The US company had previously sourced its oil from Norway; however, suddenly the content of Vitamin D had dropped drastically. It now needed an alternate source and placed an order for 800 tons of cod liver oil. Olafsson did not have a factory, but he had a building site and along with his wife he travelled to Norway in 1937 to select and order machinery. The construction of the factory was completed by the end of that year and LYSI was formally established on 10 January 1938.