Kona Blue Raises $2.6 Million for Expansion

Kona Blue Water Farms has raised $2.6 million to expand its operations in Kona, Hawaii, and is seeking further funding to begin international expansion, the company announced today. Kona Blue Water Farms, the first integrated hatchery and open-ocean aquaculture operation in the United States, sustainably raises Kona Kampachi, a Hawaiian yellowtail fish.

The company's open-ocean production techniques allow it to grow the fish at ocean depths of more than 200 feet.

The company saw a 200 percent increase in monthly sales in 2007. The farm produced approximately 400 tons of the fish last year and expects to double that figure this year.

Kona Blue recently moved its headquarters from Honolulu, Hawaii, to San Francisco, to be closer to its customer base and better serve increasing demand.

'We've had a very positive response to Kona Kampachi from consumers, who appreciate that it's the purest, safest and healthiest fish on the market,' says Michael Wink, Kona Blue's CEO. 'But what we've really found is that once people taste it in supermarket demos, they're sold. We're very proud to offer such a delicious, high quality product, and are delighted that chefs and consumers care as much as we do about producing in an environmentally sound manner.'

Chris Leahy, chef of BLT Prime in New York, first discovered Kona Kampachi when he read about it in a magazine. He immediately called the company and requested a sample.

'I loved it. It was really clean, I liked the fattiness and the flavor,' he says. 'I was told to try it three ways: raw, seared and grilled, and each way was better than the next.' Leahy serves the fish raw for $14 to $16 or grilled using a smoke-burning stove for $29 to $31. 'I serve it very simply. Nothing crazy because the flavor of the fish is so good I want it to shine through and speak for itself,' Leahy explains.

At Central Market, which has eight locations throughout Texas, Seafood Manager Scott Loranc has carried Kona Kampachi for two years and uses both in-store sampling and the company's cooking classes to promote the fish. 'If people are looking for a new idea, I'll just give them a taste and nine times out of 10 they take it home,' he says.

For more information on Kona Kampachi, read the Product Spotlight feature in the March issue of SeaFood Business.


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