There is Still Time to Get Into the Aquaculture Game in ’23


The farmed fish industry, aquaculture, has become huge across the globe.

“Farmed fish is now bigger than all land-based meat with exception of poultry,” says Jeff Johnson, president of Benson Hill Seeds. Farmed fish is also bigger than wild-caught fish. The scope of aquaculture represents a major opportunity for farmers who can grow the right soybeans. Soybean meal from commodity soybeans upsets the stomachs of salmon and trout.

“Currently they’re having to take soy protein concentrate from Brazil, which is extra processed, has a big environmental footprint, and use that,” Johnson said. “What we’re able to do with the stuff we can grow in Indiana and surrounding states is harvest that through one step of processing. It already has the anti-nutritionals so it doesn’t need the second step of processing, and it’s at a high enough level of protein, more than just commodity soybeans that the salmon can use it directly. That means that market can get that cheaper because it doesn’t have that second step of processing at a significantly less environmental footprint from water usage and carbon footprint because it doesn’t need that second concentration step.”

The opportunity in this area is to grow those specialty soybeans with the higher protein and have a ready-made market.

“The farmers that grow that can receive up to a $5 premium per bushel. Because of the value we’re sharing there’s more value to share back with our farmer partners. They’re critical to us because their fields become that second open air factory that’s actually concentrating that protein in the plant in the field and creating that value that we’re able to process in our Seymour Indiana crush facility and then ship that, whether that’s going to salmon in the US or going to Norway to the farmed fish.”

The market continues to grow providing that robust demand. Johnson says aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector in the world.

Benson Hill has human food and animal feed products available too. Growers still have time to contract acres for production in 2023.

“We would provide that seed to the grower,” Johnson explained. “They grow that on their farm with their management techniques. We then take all of that harvest back into our production facilities or processing facilities, crush that, and then provide those specialty food ingredients.”

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