Lisaqua has moved a step closer to launching the first land-based whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) farm in France by securing EUR 4.9 million (USD 5.4 million) in new investments.
The Nantes, France-based aquaculture firm reported EUR 2.6 million (USD 2.8 million) came from new and existing investors, with the remainder loaned by investment and commercial banks. Lisaqua will use the funds to complete a pilot recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm in Nantes, equipped with the company’s patented co-culture technology to grow shrimp in a biofloc system, with treated effluent used to feed marine invertebrates within the same building. The company hopes to establish a secondary source of income through their sale for use in animal feed.
Lisaqua was founded in 2018 by marine biologist Charlotte Schoelinck, engineer Caroline Madoc, and entrepreneur Gabriel Boneu. It currently employs 15 people. The firm has spent the past four years developing its "permaquaculture" technology, which it says gives its shrimp a “triple-zero” rating, with zero use of antibiotics, zero kilometers traveled to market, and zero polluting discharge. The system uses 20 percent less food than conventional shrimp farming and recycles 99 percent of the water, Lisaqua CEO Gabriel Boneu told SeafoodSource.
“We have outgrown premises four times since we first started, so we are looking forward to when the pilot plant is ready, which should be soon. We hope to start producing shrimp in April or May this year, and it will take three to four months before we can harvest the first crop. We will then continuously introduce new batches into different tanks, to enable us to supply fresh shrimp all year round,” Boneu said.
The new premises will stretch over 2,000 square meters and will produce 10 metric tons (MT) of shrimp per year, which will be sold to local fishmongers, who Boneu said are already familiar with the product following ongoing trials over the past two years. According to Boneu, feedback from fishmongers, chefs and consumers has been overwhelmingly positive.
Lisaqua packs its shrimp live on ice in two-kilo boxes. Thus far, Lisaqua has sold 13 batches, amounting to around one metric ton of product per year. The price-point is aimed at high-end markets and costs end-consumers around 15 to 25 percent more than organic shrimp from Madagascar.
Boneu said Lisaqua provides French consumers with an alternative to shrimp imported from far-away countries. France annually imports around 80,000 MT of frozen shrimp, and Europe imports around 290,000 MT every year. Starting in 2024, Lisaqua has longer-term plans to set up a network of farms around France’s major cities capable of growing between 100 MT and 500 MT of shrimp per year. These will be located close to industrial facilities, whose waste residual heat can be used to keep down the cost of heating the water to 28 percent year-round. Further expansion will continue after that, with Lisaqua planning to produce 10,000 MT of shrimp per year by 2030 across Europe.
“We are also looking at expanding into other European countries and have a few projects underway, but these are under wraps at present,” Boneu said.
Boneu said the newly received funding will have a major impact in launching Lisaqua’s big plans.
“This funding will allow us to recruit 10 people and to structure strategic partnerships to prepare our scale-up,” Boneu said. “We plan to set up a network of farms near the main French cities from 2024 in order to make our ultra-fresh shrimp available to as many people as possible.”
Contributors to the funding round included Le Gouessant, a Lamballe-Armor, France-based sustainable agricultural cooperative, Saint Herblain, France-based investment fund Litto Invest, which concentrates of projects involved in the marine economy and sustainable development, and independent investors Jean-Yves Rouat and Christophe Carré, who are both former managers of high-growth agricultural firms.
“Our desire is to share and pass on our expertise and we are delighted to invest in Lisaqua, which has a forward-looking, sustainable, and positive vision of tomorrow's food system." Rouat and Carré said in a statement.
Le Gouessant will also share its expertise in the area of shrimp nutrition and feed manufacturing, its CEO, Rémi Cristoforetti, said.
“Our investment in Lisaqua reflects our desire to implement our culture of co-construction for the benefit of a forward-thinking company. We are proud of sharing this ambition with Lisaqua's management team and investors, to create this unique ecosystem focused on innovation,” he said.
Hervé Bachelot Lallier, an associate investment director at Go Capital, the manager of Litto Invest, said Lisaqua’s vision offers a bright future for European aquaculture.
“We are delighted to welcome new investors in this round of financing, which will accelerate Lisaqua’s development and validate its model for setting up land-based shrimp farms close to major cities,” he said. “This funding fuels Lisaqua’s ambition to quickly become the leading player in the production of fresh, local, and sustainable shrimp, with its own replicable production mode.”
Photo courtesy of Lisaqua