BENCHMARK has expanded in South America with an agreement that gives it control of aquaculture breeding programmes in Colombia.
Under the company’s subsidiary Genética Spring it will operate breeding programmes previously owned by Ceniacua (Centro de Investigación de la Acuicultura de Colombia Ceniacua).
The £1.67 million acquisition, to be completed by the end of this month, adds a third species, shrimp, to Benchmark’s aquaculture breeding business in salmon and tilapia.
The business, based in Punta Canoa, near Cartagena in Colombia, operates breeding programmes for the species (L. vannamei) dominating the global shrimp sector, as well as for the marine finfish species cobia and grouper.
The advanced shrimp selection programme has been particularly successful, and has bred populations with high level of resistance to certain of the major diseases affecting the shrimp industry worldwide.
It is estimated that up to 40 per cent of tropical shrimp production (worth more than $3 billion) is lost annually to disease.
According to the World Bank, production of farmed shrimp is expected to grow by 50 to 60 per cent through to 2030.
An experienced team of world renowned scientists, with a long standing relationship with Benchmark, will join Genética Spring as part of the transaction.
The breeding programme will continue to benefit from the advanced genetic selection services offered by Benchmark’s aquaculture genetics technology business Akvaforsk Genetics Centre (AFGC).
Malcolm Pye, chief executive of Benchmark, said: ‘This important acquisition strengthens our unique package of products and services that are urgently needed in the aquaculture industry today.
‘It adds the third major aquaculture species, shrimp, to our already strong aquaculture breeding business in salmon and tilapia, and increases our market penetration into the fast growing shrimp industry.
‘There is strong and growing customer demand globally for disease resilient shrimp, which are more robust and deliver better yields. This acquisition provides us with very high calibre broodstock to meet that need.’