AquaBounty expects ‘modest’ GM salmon sales in 2020 despite US$9.8-M net loss
By Nestor Arellano
Land-based aquaculture company, AquaBounty reported a net loss of US$9.8 million for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2019. At the same time, the company said it expects sales of its genetically modified (GM) salmon “will be modest and infrequent” until AquaBounty’s grow-out RAS farms in Indiana and Rollo Bay, Prince Edward Island, Canada, commence harvesting, which is expected in mid-2020.
A top executive also said that AquaBounty was pleased with the progress of its lead product, the GM salmon sold under the brand name AquAdvantage. The fish are being grown at the company’s fish farm in Indiana.
“We are thrilled with the progress of our salmon at our Indiana farm. The fish are growing extremely well, and they look fantastic,” said Sylvia Wulf, chief executive officer of AquaBounty. “A new batch of AquAdvantage Salmon eggs was recently received at the farm, and we now have three cohorts of fish in the water. Every day we move closer to our first harvests, which we expect to commence in June of next year.”
According to the financial and operational summary filed by the company:
- Production volume of salmon at the Indiana farm is now at 77 metric tons;
- A marketing and communications agency was appointed to advance commercialization activities, including consumer research;
- Net loss for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2019, increased to $9.8 million from $8.0 million in the corresponding period of the previous year, and net loss for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019, increased to $3.0 million from $2.7 million in the corresponding period of the previous year, due to increases in production operations, headcount, and legal fees in support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) defense of their approval of AquAdvantage Salmon; and
- Cash at September 30, 2019, was $6.4 million (December 31, 2018: $3.0 million).
Back in April this year, Environment Canada approved the commercial production of genetically modified salmon produced by AquaBounty in a facility in Rollo Bay in eastern P.E.I. The company also secured permission to export GM salmon eggs from P.E.I. to its facility in Indiana to be grown out.
The company’s GM salmon grows much faster than conventional salmon. This means that the company has the potential to raise fish to market weight in less time than its competitors who are not raising GM fish.
There appears to be a market for GM salmon. Last year, AquaBounty sold five tonnes of AquAdvantage salmon fillets in Canada. The company also sells conventional Atlantic salmon, salmon eggs, fry, and byproducts.