ADM Capital joins growing list of land-based aquaculture investors

The firm’s early stage and agtech investments vehicle’s commitment to The Kingfish Company gives it exposure to a business embarking on a US expansion project in 2021.

ADM Capital’s Cibus Enterprise Fund was one of eight cornerstone investors that participated in a €50 million private placement into land-based aquaculture business The Kingfish Company, joining a growing list of PE firms to invest in the space.

The Enterprise Fund’s allocation is valued at approximately €5 million, with the company’s largest shareholder Creadev International committing approximately €9.5 million.

The Cibus Enterprise Fund is ADM’s early stage and agtech investments vehicle, which closed on $66 million in April and secured an additional $50 million in co-investments. The firm’s flagship agriculture fund, the $322 million Cibus Fund, closed in 2019 and raised an additional $130 million in co-investments.

ADM had been pursuing an aquaculture investment for at least one year. The firm decided to make an entry into the space via a land-based operator due to their limited environmental impact and reduced food miles in comparison to ocean-based aquaculture pens, senior investment director Alastair Cooper told Agri Investor in an email.

“Ocean-based aquaculture suffers from a range of externalities [which] can result in escapee issues, thereby breeding with wild stock; nutrient, waste and chemical residues polluting the sea bed and surroundings; antibiotic levels can be high; long travel times to market; and high mortality rates, such as in Scottish salmon pens [where] mortality can be around 25 percent,” Cooper said.

Land-based recirculating aquaculture systems on the other hand “means no externalities and no detrimental effect on the surrounding environment, all waste is captured and recycled as energy, zero antibiotic use, [and] moving the point of production near to the point of consumption disrupts the supply chain, [leading to] lower food miles and a fresher product.”

Netherlands-based Kingfish raises and harvests its line of ‘Dutch Yellowtail’ fish in a land-based RAS facility in the Zeeland province, which produces approximately 600 tons of fish per annum and became operational in 2018.

The company plans to use the proceeds of the €50 million private placement to expand the capacity of its Zeeland operation and accelerate its plans for a new facility in the US state of Maine.

Kingfish received the pipeline permits for the new project in September, confirmed Cooper, and plans to begin construction in the second half of 2021.

The Cibus Enterprise fund is “evaluating many technologies around RAS” to complement the investment into Kingfish, confirmed Cooper, including sustainable feed options such as that provided by existing portfolio company Enterra, sensor systems, control systems and biofiltration, among others.

ADM Capital has approximately $2.5 billion of assets under management.