South American shrimp breeding program bought by Benchmark
Benchmark has confirmed the acquisition of a Colombian firm operating breeding programs for whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) as well as for the marine finfish species cobia and grouper.
Through the acquisition, the U.K.-based biotechnology and food chain sustainability business said the group had an opportunity to utilize the global distribution channels within its advanced animal nutrition division INVE Aquaculture, and provide significantly broader routes to market for its shrimp genetics.
In addition, the move provided the opportunity to cross-sell shrimp broodstock and seed alongside INVE’s existing shrimp nutrition products, it said.
An experienced team of scientists will join Benchmark as part of the transaction.
“This important acquisition strengthens our unique package of products and services that are urgently needed in the aquaculture industry today. It adds the third major aquaculture species shrimp to our already strong aquaculture breeding business in salmon and tilapia, and increases our market penetration into the fast-growing shrimp industry,” said Malcolm Pye, chief executive of Benchmark.
“There is strong and growing customer demand globally for disease resilient shrimp, which are more robust and deliver better yields. This acquisition provides us with very high caliber broodstock to meet that need, offering a substantial commercial opportunity for the company and enhancing our growing reputation in aquaculture breeding and genetics.”
According to Benchmark, the advanced shrimp selection program has been particularly successful, and has bred populations with high levels of resistance to certain of the major diseases affecting the shrimp industry worldwide.
It also highlighted that an estimated 40 percent of tropical shrimp production, worth more than USD 3 billion (EUR 2.7 billion) is lost annually to disease, and according to the World Bank, production of farmed shrimp is expected to grow by 50 to 60 percent through to 2030.
Last week, Benchmark last week announced the placing of 47.3 million new ordinary shares to also fund a number of planned joint ventures and capital projects. These included a joint venture (JV) with Salten Stamfisk AS to build a new combined land and sea based production unit in Norway that will produce a year-round supply of salmon eggs, a JV with a major salmon producer to provide outsourced breeding and genetics services, and investment in new technology to enhance its existing pipeline of new animal health products.
This share placing aimed to raise approximately GBP 30.7 million (USD 39.9 million, EUR 36 million).
Benchmark has also recruited Dr. Alan Tinch to the newly-created role of technical services director within its breeding and genetics business. Based out of Edinburgh, Scotland, Tinch will be responsible for developing the company’s technical support platform across a portfolio of aquaculture species.