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HomeNewsBenchmark Genetics has signed a 5-year ova agreement with AquaCon

3 November 2020

Benchmark Genetics has signed a 5-year ova agreement with AquaCon

The contract between Benchmark Genetics and AquaCon involves deliveries of genetics to the land-based facilities that AquaCon are planning to build in Maryland, USA. Benchmark’s Icelandic company, StofnFiskur, will supply approximately 40 million ova to AquaCon over five years. The agreement confirms and consolidates Benchmark’s strong position as a genetics supplier to land-based farming worldwide.

Illustration of one of the planned AquaCon facilities in Maryland

Benchmark Genetics has been producing land-based broodstock and ova in Iceland since the early 1990s and has long-standing experience with land-based salmon farming worldwide. Geir Olav Melingen, Commercial Director at Benchmark Genetics, considers this a clear competitive advantage when selling to new land-based projects:

“As a leading supplier to land-based farming, we have gradually gained comprehensive experience in securing deliveries to destinations all over the world. Since we keep our broodstock on land and thereby have full control over the maturation and spawning, we are in the position to produce and deliver ova to customers every single week of the year. The term “egg season” is outdated with us”.

Geir Olav Melingen, Commercial Director, Benchmark Genetics

Security of supply was an essential factor for why AquaCon chose the company as a supplier.

Pål Haldorsen is the CEO of AquaCon, which currently has a head office in Oslo and shortly plans to go public. We have chosen to secure genetics at an early stage, as we consider ova as a key strategic success factor of our ambitious growth plans”, he says.

Haldorsen explains that Benchmark Genetics satisfies AquaCon’s requirements for the security of supply, biosecurity and genetic traits adapted to land-based RAS farming:

“Our production plan presupposes regular deliveries of ova throughout the year, and Benchmark Genetics has a production model for land-based broodstock that makes us confident that we will receive deliveries following our plans”.

Pål Haldorsen, CEO of AquaCon

Located on the south-west shore of Iceland, StofnFiskur’s land-based facilities have no other salmon farms nearby. The intake water, both freshwater and seawater, comes from boreholes and is entirely pathogen-free. StofnFiskur’s four farms are approved according to the OIE compartment standard, meaning that the zones around each farm are defined as entirely isolated and protected from external disease threats. As an example, Benchmark Genetics is the only genetics company approved by Sernapesca for export of ova to Chile.

Kalmanstjörn – one of the broodstock facilities of StofnFiskur

“The unique location and production model makes us confident that we can deliver eggs that have the highest biosafety standard to AquaCon,” says Geir Olav Melingen.

Geir Olav also proudly says that all energy used for broodstock and ova production in Iceland comes exclusively from renewable sources. Thus, the production has a relatively low CO2 footprint, even though land-based production is often considered energy-intensive.

Benchmark Genetics strongly believes that significant parts of the future growth in salmon farming will come from land-based production. Therefore, the company has developed production concepts and products that are adapted to the specific needs of this part of the industry.

“The genetic weighting of growth and quality traits forms the foundation of our product, SalmoRAS4 +. Besides, we have also developed methods in the production of broodstock that produce offspring that will not become sexually mature. This means that the operations like AquaCon can produce at higher temperatures to optimize growth”, says Melingen.

“We, therefore, have great faith that land-based farming in the future will be competitive on production costs compared to traditional sea-farming”, Geir Olav Melingen concludes.