It’s been a long road—over 20 years—for biotechnology company AquaBounty in its quest to market genetically engineered (GE) salmon, but after receiving regulatory approval from Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency last year, the company reported this week that it has sold approximately five tons of fresh AquAdvantage Salmon fillets at market price to customers in Canada.
“This quarter marked two milestone events for AquaBounty—the purchase of our first commercial farm site for the production of our eco-friendly AquAdvantage Salmon in the United States and the very first sales of AquAdvantage Salmon,” said Ronald Stotish, chief executive officer of AquaBounty. “The sale and discussions with potential buyers clearly demonstrate that customers want our fish, and we look forward to increasing our production capacity to meet demand.”
The company announced in June that it was purchasing the Bell Fish Co. farming facility in Albany, Ind., for $14 million in cash. The U.S. currently imports more than 92% of the farmed Atlantic salmon it consumes, and while GE salmon has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since Nov. 2015, regulatory red tape has prevented it from reaching the marketplace.
If anticipated timelines are achieved, the company said the facility's first harvest could come as soon as the third quarter of 2019, which is significantly faster than other land-based facilities due to the quicker time to market for AquAdvantage salmon. Once fully operational, the current facility will have an expected annual capacity of 1,200 metric tons, which represents more than $10 million a year in potential sales at current Atlantic salmon prices, with the possibility for future expansion, the company said.