RAS investors bullish on long-term prospects despite difficult year for raising capital

LONDON, UK — It’s no secret that the flood of investment for land-based farms — one of the biggest talking points of 2020 — has dried up over the past 12 months, but belief among existing
investors in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) remains sound, according to speakers at last week’s inaugural Blue Food Innovation Summit in London, UK.


For salmon, the case is particularly strong this year, he continued, as global salmon production growth is expected to be minimal for both 2022 and 2023. Demand, on the other hand, has been
growing by 4-7% annually each year.

As Yoram Layani, partner with Pure Salmon owner 8F Asset Management, put it: “There is not a salmon today that is farmed and not sold”.

“The amount of lack of supply versus the explosion in demand is such that us RAS players, we’re not trying to create additional supply for future demand — first and foremost, we’re trying to
replace disappearing supply from the usual sources,” he explained. “So you’re going to have plenty of space for multiple players within regions.”

The cost of RAS

Earlier this year, the Norwegian analyst Fearnley Securities flagged ‘headwinds’ for both construction and energy inflation facing the RAS industry in the immediate future.

As a result, there has been a concerted effort by RAS developers to find ways to reduce both energy consumption and the length of their supply chains, according to Layani.

“So we’re now looking at 99% recircularity, which we believe we can achieve, making sure you have as low an energy footprint as possible,” he told listeners, regarding the firm’s first planned
Pure Salmon farm in Japan. “Solar is one solution, biogas is another one.”

Nutreco-backed Nordic Aqua Partners is also planning to add solar panels to its farm in China, which it claims can cater to 25% of the firm’s energy requirements on site.

As Sune Moeller, chief technology officer with Swiss Blue Salmon confirmed, the actual process of pumping water is the most substantial use of energy within a RAS system — as much as 70%, he
estimates. Find a way to reduce that, and you go a long way towards cutting energy bills.