Aqua DEGMEX has big plans for small shrimp RAS

Published on
October 12, 2020

Aqua DEGMEX, a Mexican company, has big plans for a small 250 metric ton (MT) per year shrimp recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), which will be built near Monterrey, Mexico.

The company, signed a complete design engagement deal with the recently formed Singapore-based RAS developer Bloom Aqua. Combining the expertise of Bloom Aqua with some of the experience of Aqua DEGMEX members, the company is aiming to create a 13,500-square-meter facility with 250 MT of production by 2022.

“Aqua DEGMEX was founded by Diego Acosta in 2019 with the objective of investing in the aquaculture industry using state-of-the-art technology to produce the highest quality, fresh, no antibiotics  and non-frozen seafood for the regional market and, in the near future, for export to the U.S.” Diego Acosta, Aqua DEGMEX company founder, and Pedro Ortiz, also of the company, told SeafoodSource.   

Acosta has experience in the retail side of the business – over the last 30 years he has developed more than 40 “Sendero” shopping centers across Mexico. Also featured on Aqua DEGMEX staff is COO Jorge Lango, who has experience with shrimp RAS technology thanks to his past working with multiple shrimp RAS companies – including Natural Shrimp in Texas, Marvesta Shrimp in Maryland, and Shrimp Improvement Systems.

Bloom Aqua, started in 2018, has been developing designs for the commercial, high-density production of whiteleg shrimp. The company is utilizing Danish and Israeli-designed RAS technology, and specializes in operations smaller than 1,000 MT per year.

“Whilst a relatively new company, the team both includes, and draws on, a network of RAS and aquaculture specialists from around the world,” Erez Shalev and Jonathan Harvey of Bloom Aqua told SeafoodSource.

The relatively small initial size of the planned facility is a strategy the company hopes will enable for a smoother uptake.

“We are new in the industry and wanted to start with a scale that can put us on the market of the region, and at the same time give us more experience so in the mid future we continue growing, we will like to get to 1,000 MT for shrimp in the next 5 years,” Acosta and Ortiz said. “The market in Mexico in this region is growing and we are pretty sure we will have a very good acceptance of our product. It is very difficult to find high quality and fresh product in these regions because we are very far from the oceans. Also, the U.S. market in the border with Texas is a very big market which we aim to target in the mid future.”

That entry philosophy is also core to Bloom Aqua’s business objective designing smaller-scale RAS projects.

“For entrants into the aquaculture market, investing in larger-scale production can see the trap of higher initial investment hitting against the difficulties of finding a good product/market fit,” Shalev and Harvey said.

The benefits of an RAS system, as well, lend itself to that kind of project development, according to Bloom Aqua.

“One of the benefits of RAS production is the ability to design a project allowing for continuous harvesting of a variety of sizes throughout the year,” the company said. “The benefits of this are witnessed in the ability to place a fresh product with key clients such as high-end restaurants, supermarket chains and distributors.”

Those benefits, coupled with the project’s smaller size, are key to the planned ability to expand beyond the initial production numbers.

“With 250 MT/year as an initial project, whilst a lower capex is obviously met with lower opportunity cost risks, it also allows the potential for developing a solid initial market for the production, before considering larger-scale expansion,” Shalev and Harvey said.

Expansion, Acosta said, is definitely on the menu. The company has plans to grow over the next five years, and that includes expanding into other species.

“At the beginning I was interested to start with a fish species, but when Jorge joined the company, he convinced me to start with white shrimp because of his experience in this species and then to continue with fish, so in our installations that we are designing we will have a big area for R&D,” Acosta said.

Expansion is also built into the location that the company is using. Aqua DEGMEX owns a 250-acre ranch, with the option to grow to 1,300 acres, where the company expects to continue growing in multiple industries. That growth is then aimed at markets outside Mexico.

The market advantages, Bloom Aqua said, are there, considering most of the worlds shrimp supply comes from distant areas.

“For us as a company, we see Whiteleg shrimp as an aquaculture species of particular interest: a geographic gulf between the high demand in North America and Europe and the production centers of Asia and South America, general issues around disease and antibiotic use, and rising land and production costs in producing countries,” Bloom Aqua said. “As such, we believe now is the moment to develop and implement cost-effective and biosecure production of shrimp near key consumption centres to target the demand for a high quality, locally produced, and more sustainable shrimp product. The project in Mexico being developed for AquaDegmex fits this rationale well.”  

Image courtesy of Bloom Aqua

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