Danish Fish Tech Exporters Association meeting

Conference venue in Skjerne, Denmark with a nice Father Christmas!

I traveled to Jutland, the largest part of Denmark, for a meeting of the Danish Fish Tech Exporters Association. This is an impressive audience of RAS specialists to all types of actors in the seafood industry. We visited a RAS trout farm near Skjerne. A lot of the talk was about this technology and the opportunity for Danish companies to capture opportunities to install these systems in high-growth markets.

My presentation was on opportunities in global markets including China, India and Chile. And really nicely summed up conclusions from the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo in Qingdao. Get in touch if you like to receive a copy of my presentation. I even managed to get in a couple of meetings while changing planes in Copenhagen. Next stop Oslo! — Matt


South Korea, North Korea and Siberia: promising salmon farming region

I got a tip from Norwegian equity analyst Christian Olsen at Kepler Cheuvreux that there was a potentially disruptive South Korean salmon company farming salmon offshore. As Seoul is a short hop over the Yellow Sea from Qingdao and the China Seafood conference, I decided to investigate further. 
Donghae STP was enormously accommodating and planned a meticulous agenda for my visit. I already knew what a well organized and impressive country South Korea is after having visited Seoul while working for Bloomberg in 2005. It’s developed even more since then, and seems a step ahead of most of northern European countries in development. 

What surprised me is the level of collaboration among South Korean companies. STP Donghae for a start-up, receives considerable government support. The International Copper Association has developed a unique cage that allows salmon to be submerged during the hottest summer months. This is key given the area is prone to typhoons and near-surface are too hot for salmon, in the summer months. 

Anton Semikin, a major player in the Russian Far East wild salmon market and the controlling shareholder of Donghae, believes salmon could be farmed from the northeast of South Korea, all of North Korea and the southeast corner of Russia around Vladivostok. It might even be believers to place sea cages right up in the sheltered seas between Siberia and Sakhalin Island, he said.

Here was my story for Undercurrent News on the subject, and South Korea also features strongly in the Aquaculture Frontiers report on salmon (available via Undercurrent News). 


Spheric Research at the China Fisheries & Seafood Expo 2018

This year I joined the staff of Undercurrent News at this major seafood event in Qingdao, China. First thoughts are it’s quite remarkable to observe the development of even a so-called Tier II city such as Qingdao. Touching down on a crisp-cold November evening, Qingdao from above looks like Las Vegas with flashy neon-lighted hotels and massive highways.

The Qingdao International Expo is cavernous. It was recently used to stage a trade fair between China and Russia. Several halls were dedicated to the Chinese seafood industry. International expositors took up a very small chunk of portion of the floor space.

One thing that strikes visitors to this expo is the sheer number of international companies that are selling seafood to China. I was amazed to see sellers of Irish oysters, and Canadian clams. Chinese consumers are hoovering up seafood everywhere.

The talk of the town at this event was the clampdown on the unofficial shrimp route through northern Vietnam. Several traders were arrested on the eve of the event, causing consternation among Ecuadorian and Indian shrimp exporters. The exporters had sold dozens of containers of shrimp by the end of the week, easing fears that the Vietnamese clampdown will hurt shrimp trade. Read my story on this on Undercurrent News here:
China spooks shrimp market with arrests linked to Vietnamese trade route


Bi-annual AquaSur event — a salmon fest with an omega-3 focus this year

Salmon executives are treated to the impressive volcano views of Puerto Varas when they visit the bi-annual AquaSur event in southern Chile. AquaSur rotates with the AquaNor salmon trade fair, which is traditionally held in Trondheim, Norway.
The theme this year was unquestionably the future of omega-3 feed ingredients in the salmon industry. Veramaris, the joint venture of Royal DSM and Evonik Industries, Corbion, and Cargill arrived this year with evening parties and a strategic offensive to wean salmon companies off fish oil. 
The entry of novel omega-3 ingredients couldn’t come at a better time for the industry. There have been three consecutive of poor harvests in Peru, the world’s largest supplier, because of El Nino. Arguably the world news story was the realization that the world’s oceans are full of plastic. Consumers are slowly beginning to question the safety of wild-caught seafood because of this. Also, scientists from Nofima have begun to question the theory that salmon can thrive with a diet comprising less than 10% fish oil. 
It took me a while to write this story for UCN, but this summarizes the current push from the novel omega-3 supply side:
Algal oil in salmon a hit, only needs scale to go mainstream


Spheric Research heads to GOAL 2018 in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Guayaquil is the shrimp exporting hub of the Americas. We headed to the annual GOAL event, which is organized by the Global Aquaculture Alliance and brings together leading executives and thinkers from the seafood industry.

There was a heavy emphasis on shrimp this year considering the destination and SR was busy at work researching Aquaculture Frontiers: Part 3, which is all about the world’s favorite crustacean. I visited the new processing facility of Omarsa with my colleague at Undercurrent News, Jason Smith.

You can read his write-up of Omarsa’s new high-tech processing facility here: Omarsa sees value-added future as new plant nears completion


Cargill’s canola omega-3 crop program in Montana state 🇺🇸

Back in June I collected my MBA degree in New York and headed to Montana state to visit Cargill’s canola omega-3 crop program in Montana state. Growing omega-3 on the Great Plains to feed Atlantic salmon in the fjords of Norway and Chile is a remarkable development.

Montana farmers are on the periphery of America’s best farmland soil. The best farming area is nestled below the Rockies Mountains where irrigation ditches provide year round water. This area is called the Golden Triangle has been a long-term supplier of barley to Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors. Just lately, farmers have been losing their long-term supply contracts to the big brewers and have had a tough time with alternative crops such as chickpeas and lentils (hundreds and thousands of tons of lentils were returned from India because of oversupply). The next best play in town if you are a farmer is to house a nuclear warhead. As one of most inland part of the United States and home to the Air Force, America has a significant amount of its nuclear arsenal position in secret locations dotted throughout Montana’s farmland.

Cargill’s opening of a research facility on the outskirts of Great Falls is also a homecoming of sorts. The company built most of the state’s irrigation ditches a century ago, but was forced to leave the state decades ago as part of an M&A deal. Many of the state’s old grain loading facilities are still the largest buildings in most Montana farming towns, casting ghostly silhouettes over this back country. Cargill built its new facility dedicated to omega-3 canola crops in the fashion of an old grain loader, in what it considers a homecoming to the state.

I enjoyed a fantastic road trip to the Cargill site, renting a vehicle in Denver and driving through most of Montana and the Yellowstone National Park, where I saw Ibex playing in the snow and bison roaming the roads through the park.

Check out my story on Cargill’s omega-3 plans in Montana for Undercurrent News.