AquaBounty optimistic despite Q4 loss

Photo: AquaBounty Technologies

North American land-based salmon farmer AquaBounty Technologies has posted a US$6.1m loss for the final three months of 2020, close to double the figure for Q4 2019.
Despite that, the company, which is pioneering the development of genetically modified (GM) salmon, says the outlook for this year was positive. AquaBounty has started customer feedback trials with its fish.
Q4 Revenues – based on limited sales of non-GM salmon – totalled $50,197 against $46,367 a year ago.
AquaBounty said it had fortified its balance sheet with $192.3m in gross proceeds from the closing of underwritten public offerings of common stock in December 2020 and February this year, providing the financing to fund the expected cost of Farm 3, its planned 10,000 metric ton farm.
The company also it had selected Innovasea, a global leader in advanced aquatic solutions for aquaculture, as the recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) technology solutions provider for Farm 3.
It has also appointed packaged food industry veteran Dr. Ricardo Alvarez to the company’s board of directors. He brings with him 25 years of operational and board experience to advise on AquaBounty’s commercialisation initiatives, the company said.
Operating expenses were $6.1m, as compared to $3.5m in the same quarter for the previous year.
The increase in operating expenses was primarily ascribed to an increase in production costs as the biomass of fish in the compnay’s farms grew from 161 metric tonnes to over 603 metric tonnes. In addition, the company recorded an inventory reserve of $1.5m, related to the donation program for the conventional salmon.
“Net loss in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $6.1m, as compared to $3.4m in the same year-ago quarter.”
CEO Sylvia Wulf told investors: “Our recent public offerings provide the financing to fund the expected cost of Farm 3, which is critical to secure in advance of breaking ground on construction.
“We are continuing to evaluate debt financing options in support for Farm 3 as well, which could further extend our operational runway as we move forward with construction and commercialization.
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on market demand required the Company to address the inventory levels of the conventional salmon at our Indiana farm, which began to exceed capacity in December.
“We needed to make room at the farm for our growing biomass of AquAdvantage salmon. As a result, we decided to harvest and begin donating our conventional salmon to local food charities.
“This provides us with both the chance to give back to our local community and the opportunity to refine our harvesting, processing and transportation processes on a continuous weekly cycle in preparation for the first commercial harvests of AquAdvantage salmon.”
She added: “Our 2021 outlook on the industry remains optimistic, as we expect to see increasing overall demand among consumers, and a resurgent food service industry as restaurants begin to reopen this year.
“We expect our 2021 sales of AquAdvantage salmon to begin modestly and grow stronger as we enter the second half of the year.
“In anticipation, we have already begun to send out initial AquAdvantage product samples for customer feedback. We will closely monitor the results of our survey on pricing, freshness, quality and sustainable, antibiotic-free domestic production as we ramp our short-term sales initiatives.”