Salten

Commencement of salmon egg production in Salten, Norway

10th September 2018
World's most advanced egg facility increases Benchmark's capacity by 75%

Benchmark is pleased to announce the commencement of production of salmon eggs at its new land based breeding facility in Salten, Norway.

The Salten facility has been built to the highest standards of technology and biosecurity, and will be the most modern salmon egg production site in the world. The increased capacity will allow Benchmark to supply the global market with biosecure eggs year-round, a significant advantage for producers only possible with land based production.

Benchmark is a world leader in salmon genetics and the world leading supplier of salmon eggs. The Company is committed to delivering technologically advanced products and solutions to drive the sustainable development of aquaculture. Developing environmentally friendly, biosecure, land based production is a critical element in reducing the impact of disease on the salmon industry, contributing to long term sustainable growth.

Today's announcement is the culmination of a two year, £40m investment, delivered on time. The new facility will increase Benchmark's in-house capacity by 75% allowing the Company to capitalise on its leading market position and the strong growth fundamentals of the industry. Benchmark currently outsources part of its production to meet growing demand for its products. The new facility will enable Benchmark to bring production in-house enhancing profitability.

Sales of fertilised eggs will commence in November 2018 and additional fish will be brought into the facility to ramp up volumes throughout 2019. As anticipated, initial sales will benefit the 2019 financial year, with full production capacity expected by 2021. Salten is located in Northern Norway where the salmon production base is growing fast. The new facility will allow Benchmark to serve this growing region as well as the rest of Norway and international markets.

The fundamentals for salmon farming continue to be very attractive. Global demand for salmon has grown by 6-7% p.a. in recent years and is expected to increase substantially over the next decade from countries including America and China where consumption per capita is low, but growing as a result of increasing health awareness and a growing middle class. This growth and a continuous effort to increase efficiency in the industry will continue to drive demand for robust genetics.

The Group expects to issue a trading update for the year ending 30 September 2018 towards the end of October 2018.

"The opening of our new facility in Salten on time is a very important milestone for Benchmark which will allow us to capitalise on our leading market position in salmon genetics and the favourable long term market trends in the industry. We expect it to contribute additional revenues at higher margins going forward."

Malcolm Pye, CEO