Atlantic Sapphire USA, a subsidiary of Norwegian farmed salmon firm Atlantic Sapphire A/S, will soon start construction on a massive land-based aquaculture facility in Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
Atlantic Sapphire CEO and Founder Johan Andreassen confirmed to SeafoodSource the company has acquired all approvals necessary to begin the first phase of the project, which will cost around USD 100 million (EUR 94 million). Andreassen said he expects the facility will be capable of producing around 10,000 metric tons of rought-weight salmon, or 22 million pounds annually, by the time the phase-one build-out is complete, expected by the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020.
“Behind that, we’ll launch phase two and three, and over the next six to seven years, we expect to grow up to 90,000 tons of salmon annually,” Andreassen said. “We have secured sufficient land to build it out completely.”
The second and third phases will run the project’s cost to between USD 350 million and 400 million (EUR 326 and 374 million), he said.
The Miami facility is being equipped with technology developed by Atlantic Sapphire’s Danish subsidiary, Langsand Laks, including a closed-containment, recirculating aquaculture system that Andreassen said is extremely energy- and water-efficient.
“Our rule of thumb is that we’ll get about 1,000 tons of production per acre,” he said. “To put it in perspective, that would mean you could put the entire U.S. consumption of salmon into 500 acres.”
The system is “by far the most efficient way of producing salmon” via aquaculture, Andreassen added.
Atlantic Sapphire USA’s production is destined primarily for the U.S. market and will be sold via import and distribution firm Platina Seafood, which is also co-owned by Andreassen, along with Mark Attwell and Damien Claire.
“Through that relationship, Atlantic Sapphire will have access to all pockets of the U.S. marketplace, serving everything from the largest retailers in the country to smaller local foodservice distributors,” he said.
Currently, Platina Seafood sells salmon produced by Langsand Laks in higher-end food retailers across the U.S., including at Dean & Deluca. Andreassen said he’s similarly aiming for the high-end U.S. market with the salmon produced in Atlantic Sapphire USA’s Miami facility.
“We will be pursuing several sustainability certifications, and we hope the USDA can agree on organic standards for salmon, because that will be a natural step for us,” he said.
American consumers will be attracted to the smaller carbon footprint of U.S.-produced fish, especially if Atlantic Sapphire is able to keep its costs down (and the price of its salmon reasonable), Andreassen said.
“The U.S. market is primarily served by fresh fish that is being flown in from Europe or Chile, so you have a huge logistic cost and a lot of carbon footprint right now,” he said. “Our system will eliminate that, as there’s a huge economy of scale that comes along with an operations as large as ours. Once we scale up, we will be able to get our costs down quite significantly, and that’s also necessary because of the really high capital expense it has taken to get this operation up and running. So our plan is that there will be a big cost savings and a very short lead-time, as well as an increased shelf life for our salmon.”
The U.S. market is ripe for growth in salmon sales, Andreassen said.
“While the U.S. market is already a big market for salmon, I would say it’s still very underdeveloped,” he said. “The consumption per capita is much lower than in Europe. I come from Germany, which has no fish culture and still has twice the salmon consumption as the U.S. does. I believe through market development, we have potential to double the consumption of salmon in the U.S. over next 10 to 15 years. It’s a market that has a lot of consumers that can afford to buy a protein like salmon. “
Atlantic Sapphire has the ability to get Americans to eat more domestically produced salmon, Andreassen concluded.
“Historically, about 95 percent of U.S. consumption of Atlantic salmon has been imported,” he said. “But our technology can take salmon farming to a large-scale and create real, huge potential to build salmon farming as a big industry in the U.S. to the point where we hopefully can compete with chicken, beef and pork.”