Darden invests in first integrated lobster park

Darden Aquasciences Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the United States-based Darden Restaurants Inc., will pump in some USD 300 million (RMB 1 billion) to join forces with two Malaysian companies to develop the world's first integrated lobster aquaculture park, or iLAP, in Sabah under a USD 600 million (RMB 1.86 billion) deal.

The two Malaysian companies are Ever Nexus Sustainable Seafood Sdn Bhd and Inno Fisheries Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Yayasan Sabah Group.

In a project supported by Invest KL, Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Biotech Corp. and Yayasan Sabah, 40 million pounds of lobster are expected to be produced annually once it reaches full capacity, with projected annual sales of RMB 3 billion by 2029. All lobster output produced will be used by Darden.

The tropical spiny lobster, also known as the King Lobster, will be the breed of lobster that is bred in Sabah.

Presently, iLAP will have a sea space of 9,300 ha, supported by three lobster hatcheries. It will create 14,000 jobs by 2022, in line with the Economic Transformation Program.

Jobs created include a wide spectrum of skills ranging from PhD and masters-level scientists and engineers, to aquaculture specialists and skilled aquaculture technicians. iLAP will also partner with Malaysian universities, TalentCorp. and other government entities to develop talent.

“The first stage of commercial hatchery will begin in June 2013 while the first batch of lobsters for commercial consumption is anticipated to be ready by June 2015. The iLAP project will start to see significant production in eight years time,” said Darden Aquafarm Inc. President Bill Herzig.

Darden will also make Malaysia its hub in Asia-Pacific, and intends to eventually introduce its chain of restaurants such as Red Lobster there. It plans to establish a regional operations hub in the country to assist with potential future restaurant growth in the Asian market.

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