The company said it is investing US$65m in the new facility, which will have an annual capacity of 470,000 tons on completion. The plant will be located at Duran-Ecuador.
The build of the 3.5 hectares plant will be staggered. Skretting said the plan is to incorporate the latest technological and environmental advancements. The first phase of construction will be finished within the first half of 2018, with the plant fully online by 2019, said the Norway headquartered group.
The facility, it said, will ensure the company can continue to meet the fast growing demand in both Ecuador and Peru for premium quality shrimp feeds. Ecuador exports shrimp to the US, Asia and Europe.
Last August, Skretting presented new shrimp feed protocols for South America, combining tailored nutrition with optimized feeding schedules, as evidence, it said, that shrimp production was entering a ‘golden era’ of efficiency and quality.
In its protocol developed to suit the specifics of shrimp farming in Ecuador, the company said its management of both feed quality and intake had halved the feed conversion ratio from 1.8, doubled growth to 2g per week and increased the survival rate from 50% to 85%.
Skretting explained that it is able to calculate precisely the protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamin and mineral content not only for a given species but for its different life stages also.
“The lifecycle of a shrimp may only be three-to-five months, but there are clear life stages with opportunities to ensure diets are optimized for each stage,” Carlos Miranda, general manager of Skretting Ecuador, told us last year.
The Ecuadorian industry is not alone in benefitting from such protocols. He said a protocol in Peru also delivered very positive results, but the pond management is very different from that in Ecuador.
Regional protocols needed
He contrasted aquaculture with wild capture fisheries, where uniform improvements can benefit multiple regions and stocks.
“With aquaculture, the environments, challenges and farming practices are very specific to each area,” said Miranda, contrasting Skretting’s activities in Ecuador and Vietnam as an example. “There are some very stark differences, including typical pond sizes and stocking densities. Ecuadorian shrimp ponds can be 10 hectares, while Vietnamese sites will be 1 hectare. Ecuadorian farms will be semi-intensive, compared to Vietnam’s intensive.”
There are challenges. Shrimp tend to need to eat ‘little and often’ in order to meet both their digestive capacity and dietary requirements for optimized growth. However, these needs may not be easily reconciled with standard feeding schedules.
Ecuadorian shrimp market appeal
Other fish feed giants are investing in Ecuador.
Last month, we reported on how the BioMar Group is focusing on expanding into that Latin America shrimp feed market with the acquisition of 70% of Ecuadorian feed producer, Alimentsa.
The $119m investment is part of that Danish aqua feed company’s plan to be a major player within high-end shrimp feed.
Carlos Diaz, CEO of BioMar Group, said the firm expects the tie-up to solidify its regional footprint, which includes the company’s factory in Costa Rica. It also allows the company to build off the work that Alimentsa was already doing, he added.
“Ecuador is the biggest shrimp market in Latin America and one of the biggest in the world,” he told FeedNavigator. “Also, when looking at the different markets, Ecuador produces shrimp in a very efficient and sustainable way, [there is] still room for improvement, of course, and definitely room for growth.”
Two years ago saw Cargill form a joint venture with shrimp producer, Naturisa, to build a $30m shrimp feed facility near Guayaquil in Ecuador, set to be operational during 2017.
The Minnesota-based agribusiness giant said back then that it would own 75% of the JV and have managerial control of the day-to-day operations, while Naturisa would retain 25% of the business. The new plant would produce shrimp feed marketed under the Purina brand for fish producers in Latin America.