Genetically modified salmon firm AquaBounty has found “very enthusiastic” buyers in Canada, according to president and CEO Ronald Stotish.
The first sale of the Maynard, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based firm's AquAdvantage salmon was made last June, when unnamed buyers in Canada bought five metric tons at the going rate of traditional farmed Atlantic salmon, according to the company. Since then, AquaBounty has sold 10 additional metric tons of its AquAdvantage salmon to buyers in Canada, primarily for use as sashimi and other high-end applications, Stotish told investors at the 20th Annual Global Investment Conference in New York, New York, U.S.A., in early September.
“The response from the buyers was very enthusiastic,” Stotish said, according to the CBC. "They put it in their high-end sashimi lines, not their frozen prepared foods.”
However, the supplier’s net loss grew in the first six months of this year, due in part to costs at its salmon farm in Indiana, U.S.A. AquaBounty’s loss rose from USD 4.1 million (EUR 3.5 million) in the first six months of 2017 to USD 5.2 million (EUR 4.5 million) in the first half of 2018.
This June, AquaBounty shipped its second order - 10 metric tons of frozen AquAdvantage salmon - from Panama, at the average frozen Atlantic salmon rate.
Meanwhile, Stotish revealed that AquAdvantage will be sold in the U.S. through established distributors.
“Once [AquaBounty salmon] is established in the market, the option for branding as a ‘sustainably produced’ food item can be considered,” he told investors.
Since only three percent of Atlantic salmon is produced in the U.S., and 300,000 metric tons of the fish were imported in 2017, the total U.S. market opportunity is USD 3.1 billion (EUR 2.7 billion), Stotish said.
In addition to the U.S. and Canada, AquaBounty is focusing on several international markets, he added. The supplier has submitted an application to run a field trial in China, and it is conducting a field trial to support its application for approval in Brazil. It has also completed a field trial in Argentina and is negotiating an agreement with a local partner in Chile on the regulatory application for the salmon.
The advantages of AquAdvantage salmon, according to the supplier, is that it grows faster than traditional farmed salmon – it is ready in 16 to 18 months – and utilizes 25 percent less feed.