Forever Oceans making steady progress as it develops markets for its offshore-farmed seriola
Forever Oceans is continuing to develop its commercial markets, as the company has evolved from a start-up with a trial cohort of its branded Forever Oceans Kanpachi to a company harvesting fish two days a week.
In 2022, the company did not have a presence at Seafood Expo North America, but hosted an event nearby to debut its fish. Forever Oceans Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer Jason Heckathorn told SeafoodSource at the time, the company was hoping to have its open-ocean raised fish, which are Seriola rivoliana, available to U.S. customers by the end of the summer.
A year later, the company had a presence at the 2023 Seafood Expo North America and was handing out samples of the fish it now has sold to 75 restaurants and a group of committed distributors.
Forever Oceans CEO Bill Bien told SeafoodSource the company began commercially harvesting its fish, which is raised in net pens in Panama, in late August, in line with its original plans.
“The last time we talked with you, on the production side, we had a couple trial cohorts in the water, and we had just put our first commercial cohort in the water – so less than 100 metric tons,” Bien said. “Now, we have 1,000 metric tons of fish in the water, and the majority of them are at commercial weight.”
The company now has customers in the U.S. and Europe purchasing its ocean-raised fish, and is working on expanding its production of seriola. It has plenty of room to do so – the company was granted a huge concession by Brazil for locating its net pens in January 2022. Now, the company has also gained a new concession in northern Bali, Indonesia, to raise its seriola.
“Collectively all of our concessions … they’re bigger than Chicago,” Bien said. “We have 200,000 hectares of water.”
Bien said the company is also developing new products, such as a natural frozen and Co2-frozen seriola for the European and U.S. markets, with ambitions to move further into packaged foods, leaning on the expertise of its culinary board.
The company also had an audit by The Nature Conservancy over the past year that found its operations produce 20 percent less carbon emissions than net-pen salmon aquaculture, and roughly 90 percent less than raising beef. From an effluent standard as well, the company is also highly sustainable, Bien said.
“We’re 1/1000 of the best salmon farms under the Canadian standard, because of the precision feeding, and the single-point mooring technology,” Bien.
In addition to the Nature Conservancy audit, the company also received Fast Company recognition as one of the most-innovative food and beverage companies in the world, Bien said.
The fact the Forever Oceans booth at Seafood Expo North America often had lines of people trying to get samples of its fish was gratifying, Forever Oceans Vice President of Global Sales Guy Lott told SeafoodSource.
“Seeing people, how excited they get about the fish, and saying that the fat content is amazing, is great,” Lott said.
Bien said the next goal of Forever Oceans is to begin expanding its farm capacity in different offshore locations, and to potentially get into other species.
“This is a good step of starting toward our goal of starting with Seriola and expanding into other warm water tropical finfish so we can achieve our vision of providing the most-sustainable selection of fish,” Bien said.
Photo courtesy of Chris Chase/SeafoodSource