Brazil's JBS, one of the world's largest protein processors with interests in three continents is moving into the fish industry following a deal for the purchase of Australia's salmon farming company Huon Aquaculture for the equivalent of US$ 315 million.
The pre agreement already has the support of most shareholders and should be decided by the end of the year, following the approval by Australian authorities, according a release this week from the company.
Tasmania based Huon is Australia's second largest salmon producer with an estimated output of 35,000 tons annually, supplying 40% of the domestic market, adds the release. Andrew Forrest, an Australian millionaire linked to mining purchased a 7,3% of the company, listed in the Sydney stock exchange, for some US$ 15 million last June.
Apparently JBS is targeting 100% of Huon. The Brazilian group already has a meat processing and packing facilities in Longford, Tasmania. JBS has also been involved in the purchase of a large pig farm, Rivalea, which resulted in a public hearing by the antitrust office in Australia to assess the impact of such takeover.
The global consumption of fish according to FAO has grown faster than that of beef, port and chicken, pushed by an increasing world population and greater income level, and which following on current food and health trends, acknowledges the benefits of fish both in the wild and aquaculture.
Such is the case that it is estimaed that the global fish market has an annual turnover of US$ 400 billion, and has attracted first line multinational corporations such as Cargill, which is also planning to enter the fish production and processing business.
It amounts to a stratetic acquisition, which signals the access of JBS to the aquaculture business, pointed out JBS CEO Gilberto Tomazoni. Aquaculture will become our new business growth platform.
Allegedly Huon has not enjoyed good times recently, having lost some US$ 65 million in the six months to December, arguing a drop in the demand for salmon as a direct consequence of the Covid 19 pandemic. And last February the company said it would begin a strategic review to assess several takeover offers