Sheffield’s Benchmark in Norwegian salmon deal

Sheffield-based Benchmark Holdings, the aquaculture biotechnology and food chain sustainability company, said it signed a long-term agreement with major Norwegian salmon producer SalMar ASA “to provide genetics, health and knowledge services.”

Benchmark said it will, through it’s subsidiary SalmoBreed AS, form a 50/50 joint venture for the production of SalMar’s salmon strain, Rauma.

The joint venture called SalMar Genetic AS will be formed by a demerger of SalMar’s salmon production facility in Reistad, Norway.

Benchmark will take full responsibility for managing the breeding programme through its subsidiary Akvaforsk Genetics Center AS. 

The agreement also includes sales of eggs from Benchmark’s land based sites in Iceland and, once commissioned, from its Salten site in Norway.

Benchmark will also provide fish health services, diagnostics, and health products. 

Benchmark’s shares have soared roughly 70% in the past year to give it a current stock market value of more than £500 million.

Benchmark CEO Malcolm Pye said: “We are delighted to sign an agreement with such a blue-chip partner in the salmon market. 

“It is testament to our customers’ recognition of the benefits of our growing, integrated package of products and services, as well as our ability to enhance value for producers and contribute towards the overall sustainability of the aquaculture industry.”

In January, Benchmark said its revenue soared 148% to £109.4 million in the year to September 30, 2016, partly as a result of the acquisition of INVE Aquaculture in December 2015.

However, Benchmark made an operating loss of £20.5 million mainly due to increased investment in research and development and significant acquisition related expenses.