NaturalShrimp bets on new shrimp production methods
Bill Williams, CEO of NaturalShrimp, believes he’s discovered the way the United States will produce shrimp – and perhaps other fish – in the future.
In Lacoste, Texas, Williams’ NaturalShrimp Inc. has installed water treatment systems in a warehouse that will be the key to producing the succulent product that’s the top seafood species in the United States. It took 18 years and about USD 40 million (EUR 35.1 million) in investments, but he believes the key breakthrough has been made that will allow his company to make shrimp in the tiny town just southwest of San Antonio – and beyond.
“You can go to New York City and put 30 young men in downtown New York, and everybody in the area, they’re going to have fresh shrimp on a weekly basis," Williams said. “Because all you need is warehouse space.”
That’s for later. For now, the company’s goal is to perfect the concept in Lacoste and expand gradually, perhaps to a place like Las Vegas first.
For years, places like the Gulf of Mexico were the areas where shrimpers toiled to harvest the tons of shrimp Americans ate. However, over a 30-year period from 1985 to 2015, per capita shrimp consumption in the U.S. doubled. At the same time, the country’s population went from 237.9 million to 321 million.
“That type of population [growth], not only in the United States but worldwide, puts way too much stress on the oceans,” Williams said.
NaturalShrimp has worked for years raising shrimp in indoor aquaculture facilities, but while the company has been able to produce thousands of pounds of shrimp over that time, consistency had been the main obstacle.
While the company found ways to control bacteria in its indoor facilities, the shrimp produced waste, including large amounts of ammonia, that converted to toxic nitrates.
“Within a week, it’ll kill them all,” Williams said.
However, along with F&T Water Solutions, LLC, NaturalShrimp found a way to create a recirculating system that controls both ammonia and bacteria in the salt water. In January, the companies received a patent for their system.
“The capability to sustainably harvest indoor farm raised shrimp and other aquatic species for consumption to any city, regardless of location to water, will increase fresh food supplies with locally grown products,” F&T CEO Peter Letizia in a statement when the patent was announced.
Williams said the systems also allow NaturalShrimp to raise shrimp in an environment that’s cleaner than foreign farms.
Now that the system is in place, the next challenge for NaturalShrimp is to convince investors that it’s viable. The company’s stock, which trades on the OTC Markets index, endured a rollercoaster ride earlier this year as it went from a closing price of USD 0.02 (EUR 0.02) per share on 18 January to an opening price and 52-week of USD 0.95 (EUR 0.83) on 12 February, thanks largely to the patent news.
However, the stock then experienced a major sell-off that, according to Insider Financial’s Jim Bloom, took place due to short-selling pressure. Within a month of reaching the high, the stock had fallen to USD 0.28 (EUR 0.25). The decline continued through the spring as the stock has been trading between USD 0.10 (EUR 0.09) and USD 0.13 (EUR 0.11) for most of June.
In its most recent quarterly report, NaturalShrimp reported a net loss of USD 964,274 (EUR 846,499) for the quarter ending 31 December, 2018. That’s compared to a loss of nearly USD 1.7 million (EUR 1.5 million) the year prior. For the first three quarters of the company’s 2018-2019 fiscal year, the net loss was USD 2.3 million (EUR 2 million) compared to USD 3 million (EUR 2.6 million) for the previous year.
Despite the recent turn with the stock, there are those who like NaturalShrimp’s stock as an investment opportunity. Morningstar rated the stock as undervalued.
Others believe that more investors will take notice once the company starts producing shrimp on a regular basis, as it takes about 24 weeks for shrimp to grow to market size.
“The company moving to commercialize its natural shrimp as well as proprietary technology should continue to excite investors and improve market sentiments,” Bloom wrote.
With the systems in place, Williams said the plan is to produce shrimp for high-end restaurants and continue to add tanks and treatment systems that will allow the company to provide its shrimp to customers on an ongoing basis.
And since the technology is viable for other types of species, Williams said NaturalShrimp would look to do joint ventures to provide companies interested in large-scale aquaculture operations with the systems.
“We’re going to be busy, probably the rest of our lives, with [this],” he said.